Embracing the dramatic digital transformation
Change is accelerating all around us: in politics, in society, and throughout our everyday lives. We are on the cusp of one of the most dramatic, technology-led revolutions the world has ever seen. A digital transformation that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and interact. How we respond as individuals, businesses, cities and nations will determine how well placed we are to succeed in this new interconnected world.
Robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, energy storage and personal health monitoring are just some of the areas where this revolution is evolving at a rapid pace. This digital transformation is already disrupting almost every industrial sector, turning convention on its head, creating new markets and boundless new opportunities.
So, what does all this mean for the oil and gas industry?
This is the question I’m asked on a daily basis. And it’s one where we are still working on the answers. But I do know that it presents us with many opportunities.
The first thing I’d say is that to date our industry has been insular when it comes to adopting new technologies. Despite decades of innovation and engineering firsts from the inception of the North Sea, the oil and gas industry has been slow to embrace digital solutions when compared with the likes of the automotive or aerospace industries. There are some good reasons for this – access to digital networks offshore has been limited for example – but if you take an objective look at an oil platform, it’s obvious that the basic design has not changed in the past 50 years. Compare this to the cars we drive, the televisions we watch, the phones we use, and it is clear that the oil and gas industry has not been at the forefront of technology development in recent times. So, what do we have to do? All this represents a significant challenge – one that the Oil & Gas Technology Centre was set up to address.
Our Digital Solution Centre has five outcome-based themes: a digitally enabled supply chain initially focused on marine logistics; the use of artificial intelligence to support sub-surface teams, with an initial focus on improving exploration; the digitally-enabled worker to increase efficiency offshore; smart facilities to provide greater insight; and optimised production to maximise recovery. Underlying all these is a sixth theme which addresses the need to develop the digital and data platforms required across our industry that will enable us to better exploit our data and to share learning relevant to the North Sea basin.