Reflections from CERAWeek 2018: Digitalization and AI Will Help Oil & Gas Companies Think Outside the Box; Achieve Operational Efficiencies at Scale
This year I had the opportunity at attend CERAWeek 2018, the Davos of the energy industry and in this blog I wanted to summarize some of the most common themes dominating the conversations amongst the top energy industry leaders.
No matter where you think the industry is headed, technology innovations will be a crucial part of the trajectory. CERAWeek organizers seemed to understand the impact technology, most specifically digitalization will have on the energy industry, dedicating this year’s Agora Sessions to intimate discussions of technology innovation and digitalization.
Technology evolution will fuel advancements from upstream exploration to downstream consumption. Most energy companies are investing in analytics and many are already leveraging AI and digitalization, most notably Maana’s customers Chevron, Shell and BHP.
The overarching theme of CERAWeek was: How can the industry promote change outside of established frameworks? One way the oil and gas industry is looking outside established frameworks is through digitalization. During an Agora Session panel, “Digitization and Oil & Gas: What’s Next?” Maana CEO, Babur Ozden joined Wan Shamilah Saidi, CDO, Petronas; Jonathan Crane, VP of wells technology deployment, Shell; Vivek Chidambaram, managing director, global digital lead, Accenture Strategy; and, Arshad Matin, CEO and board member, Paradigm (acquired by Emerson) to provide his perspective.
The panel discussed how tools, such as AI, can drive operational efficiencies by capturing and retaining employee knowledge, looking for patterns in existing data, and creating algorithm-based solutions to scale across entire business facets. Maana CEO mentioned that we have seen a uptick in the number of oil and gas companies asking about AI in the past 12 months, in part because cloud computing and infrastructure advancements have made computing power and techniques like machine learning more accessible. Though AI has been a much-hyped form of technology, Ozen argues it is now finally doable for oil and gas.
Echoing sentiments heard across CERAWeek seminars the panel continued, by talking about the idea that digital transformation of oil and gas companies requires connecting “islands of data sets” to best optimize decision making across the enterprise.
Many of the top oil and gas companies, including Saudi Aramco, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron have invested in technology companies like Maana which has become a driving force for enabling digitalization — an evidence behind the importance of intelligent technology.
During a discussion about how technology will disrupt the upstream oil business, Ozden proposed the idea of a digital divide. Oil and gas companies generate hundreds of decision models every month compared to a fully digital company, such as Amazon, that generate thousands of decision models in the same time frame. To bridge the divide, oil and gas companies must use their data in unique ways to build digital structures, digital organizations, and digital cultures using AI and similar technologies.
The exploration of such innovations is relatively nascent for the oil and gas industry. But it is clear that is where the future lies. CERAWeek highlighted the importance of technology in disrupting the energy industry, and we look forward to watching that progress and helping companies achieve the promise of operational efficiencies at scale. Still, this year’s CERAWeek highlighted the importance of digitalization, which has the power to offer oil and gas companies billions of dollars per year in benefits.