This year I had the opportunity to attend CERAWeek 2018, the Davos of the energy industry, and I want to summarize some of the themes that dominated the conversations among 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 of technology, most specifically the influence digitalization, will have on the energy industry. This was evidenced by the dedication of 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 these frameworks is through digitalization. During an Agora Session panel, “Digitization and Oil & Gas: What’s Next?” Maana CEO Babur Ozden provided his perspective along with 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).
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. Ozden mentioned the uptick within the past year of the number of oil & gas companies asking about AI, 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, Ozden argues it is now finally doable for oil & gas.
Echoing sentiments heard across CERAWeek seminars, the panel discussed how digital transformation of oil & gas companies requires connecting “islands of data sets” to best optimize decision-making across the enterprise. Many of the top oil & gas companies—including Saudi Aramco, Royal Dutch Shell, and Chevron—have invested in technology companies like Maana, reflecting the recognized importance of intelligent technology and digitalization.
During a discussion about how technology will disrupt the upstream oil business, Ozden proposed the idea of a digital divide. Oil & gas companies generate hundreds of decision models every month compared to a fully-digital company, such as Amazon, that generates thousands of decision models within the same time frame. To bridge the divide, oil & gas companies must use their data in unique ways to build digital structures, digital organizations, and digital cultures using AI and similar technologies.
Although the exploration of such innovations is relatively nascent for the oil & gas industry, it is clear this is where the future lies. CERAWeek highlighted the crucial influence of technology in the evolving energy industry, and Maana looks forward to helping companies incorporate digitalization to achieve the promise of operational efficiencies at scale and the possibility of billions of dollars in annual benefits.
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