In­dus­try Out­look

Omar Saleh, Mi­crosoft’s di­rec­tor of man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­sources for the Mid­dle East and Africa, says the in­tel­li­gent cloud, an­a­lyt­ics and other dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies are driv­ing the in­dus­try for­ward

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Mi­crosoft says dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy is fuel for the en­ergy sec­tor

In the oil and gas in­dus­try, tech­nolo­gies such as ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI), the in­ter­net of things (IOT), ma­chine learn­ing and big data can serve op­er­a­tors by in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and stream­lin­ing pro­cesses, all while help­ing them at­tract and re­tain tal­ent, and re­main se­cure and com­pli­ant.

When asked about the most im­por­tant ben­e­fits of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies for the up­stream oil and gas seg­ment, re­spon­dents to the “Ac­cen­ture and Mi­crosoft 2017 Up­stream Oil and Gas Dig­i­tal Trends Sur­vey” cited faster and bet­ter de­ci­sion-mak­ing, shorter time to first oil and gas, and re­duced risk en­abled by re­al­time de­ci­sion sup­port as the three most im­por­tant ben­e­fits for up­stream oil and gas com­pa­nies. Ad­di­tion­ally, 39% of re­spon­dents said the great­est risk from a lack of dig­i­tal in­vest­ment is be­com­ing un­com­pet­i­tive.

From ex­plo­ration to drilling, from pro­duc­tion to trans­porta­tion, from stor­age to trad­ing, the in­tel­li­gent cloud and the in­tel­li­gent edge come to­gether to de­liver dig­i­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties that can ma­jorly boost op­er­a­tional ex­cel­lence, im­prove prof­itabil­ity, whilst bring­ing about safer and more pro­duc­tive op­er­a­tions.

Ad­vanced an­a­lyt­ics, em­pow­ered by op­er­a­tional data lakes and ma­chine learn­ing al­go­rithms, is al­ready de­liv­er­ing ac­tion­able in­sights of the moun­tains of data gen­er­ated by IOT, struc­tured and un­struc­tured data ac­cu­mu­lated over decades.

Ap­ply­ing cog­ni­tive in­tel­li­gence can im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity by lever­ag­ing dig­i­tal as­sis­tants and BOTS that bring along many applications to en­hance knowl­edge cap­ture and re­use, as well as timely in­sights em­bed­ded in ev­ery­day use apps like chat mes­sag­ing apps and in­ter­net browsers.

The in­dus­try can also im­prove on safety by lever­ag­ing com­puter vi­sion, for ex­am­ple, to track be­hav­iours that pro­mote safe op­er­a­tions like wear­ing per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment, iden­ti­fy­ing haz­ards like oil spills and smoke, as well as con­trol­ling ac­cess and ge­ofenc­ing of per­son­nel and as­sets within per­mit­ted zones.

AI helps make sense of the piles of seis­mic data, logs, and project data that op­er­a­tors col­lect. Us­ing this tech­nol­ogy to search across, iden­tify and cor­re­late im­ages and pat­terns saves geo­sci­en­tists and engi-


neers count­less hours nav­i­gat­ing through loads of data across their or­gan­i­sa­tions. Bring­ing around big com­put­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties com­bined with time-se­ries data, we are also able to de­velop reser­voir mod­els that fur­nish a dy­namic and cur­rent un­der­stand­ing of reser­voir char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence is also de­liv­er­ing and promis­ing big ad­vance­ments in drilling op­ti­mi­sa­tion; en­abling bet­ter pen­e­tra­tion rates, as­set longevity, and re­duc­ing down­time.

Op­er­a­tors are able to pre­dict events like stick-slip that can cause twist­ing and dam­age of the drill string, and bring around ma­jor de­lays. Also, re­ly­ing on AI tech­nolo­gies, we are able to pre­dict the op­ti­mal path for drilling bits, and steer them within the pay zone.

IOT and ma­chine learn­ing also help us drive un­par­al­leled as­set per­for­mance and avail­abil­ity, al­low­ing for op­er­a­tions con­ti­nu­ity through ac­cu­rate pre­dic­tions about as­set and process fail­ures.

The in­tel­li­gent edge is a game changer here as well, as it al­lows the de­ploy­ment of rich ma­chine learn­ing pre­dic­tive mod­els to edge de­vices and con­trollers. In essence, this re­duces the de­pen­dence on, and us­age of, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and en­ables pre­dic­tive de­ci­sions to be ac­tioned in a timely man­ner.

Col­lec­tively, this al­lows com­pa­nies to build rich mod­els for de­ter­min­ing when, and un­der what con­di­tions, ma­chin­ery will break down, as well as de­ploy near real time re­sponses. Main­te­nance ahead of fail­ure, brings dra­matic value in sus­tain­ing pro­duc­tion, re­duc­ing down­time, and op­ti­miz­ing the over­all main­te­nance process, cut­ting costs and al­lo­cat­ing re­sources ef­fi­ciently.

Equally im­por­tant to the in­tel­li­gent cloud and in­tel­li­gent edge dis­cus­sion is stream­lin­ing those ex­pe­ri­ences to the in­dus­try’s in­for­ma­tion and field work­ers through se­cure pro­duc­tiv­ity plat­forms.

The oil and gas in­dus­try needs to make sure it is em­pow­er­ing a con­nected work­force; pro­vid­ing them the tools and in­sights as and when needed. There is a need to bring pre­dictabil­ity and in­te­gra­tion across dif­fer­ent pro­cesses, and to op­ti­mise tasks.

As an ex­am­ple, build­ing on Mi­crosoft Azure, Of­fice 365 and Dy­nam­ics 365, we brought our Con­nected Field Ser­vice (CFS) plat­form of­fer­ing. CFS al­lows the lever­age of data from sen­sors, de­vices, knowl­edge bases and big data stores to sup­port field work­ers with ac­tion­able in­sights.

Build­ing on CFS, com­pa­nies can mo­bilise the right re­sources to carry main­te­nance tasks and worko­rders, sup­port them with the right tools and in­sights, op­ti­mise and re-en­gi­neer crit­i­cal pro­cesses like per­mit-to-work and plant turn­arounds. CFS al­lows com­pa­nies to drive ac­count­able and pre­dictable field per­for­mance, whilst mitigating safety and oth­er­wise process risks.

Cy­ber se­cu­rity is a top pri­or­ity. Since 2012, the GCC en­ergy sec­tor has been rocked by sev­eral se­vere cy­ber-at­tacks that have cost com­pa­nies time, money and brand pres­tige. Tools like big data and ad­vanced an­a­lyt­ics so­lu­tions are in­dis­pens­able in the re­gional sec­tor’s fight against ma­li­cious ac­tors.

By cor­re­lat­ing net­work events with global met­rics, sus­pi­cious net­work be­hav­iour can be iden­ti­fied and flagged in time to mit­i­gate or pre­vent dam­age to crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture. In­tel­li­gent cloud

a ma­jor role in im­prov­ing and em­pow­er­ing threat de­tec­tion, con­tain­ment and re­sponse.

In Septem­ber, Shell an­nounced its se­lec­tion of C3 IOT with Mi­crosoft Azure as its ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) plat­form to en­able and ac­cel­er­ate dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion on a global scale.

Shell an­nounced it will use AI to pre­dict when main­te­nance is needed on com­pres­sors, valves and other equip­ment, help steer drill bits through shale de­posits; and im­prove the safety of em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers.

Chevron also launched an ef­fort to pre­dict main­te­nance prob­lems in its oil fields and re­finer­ies. Build­ing on Mi­crosoft’s IOT ser­vices, Chevron aims to en­able thou­sands of pieces of equip­ment with sen­sors by 2024 to pre­dict ex­actly when equip­ment will need to be ser­viced.

In the UAE last month, ENOC and Mi­crosoft an­nounced a part­ner­ship on a ‘Ser­vice Sta­tion of the Fu­ture’ con­cept that will har­ness the power of the in­tel­li­gent cloud to build rounded views of ENOC cus­tomers and pro­mote en­hanced stan­dards of safety, se­cu­rity and in­for­ma­tion on fore­courts.

Ad­vanced ma­chine-learn­ing and AI tech­nolo­gies will use CCTV cam­era feeds, and data of all types, to man­age queu­ing and wait­ing times in the fore­court, im­prove the avail­abil­ity of ser­vices and as­sets and bring rel­e­vant mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing to all cus­tomers. Safety is a key fo­cus as well as the so­lu­tion helps de­tect haz­ards such as smoke, fire and seem­ingly aban­doned ve­hi­cles.

Key tech­nol­ogy play­ers across the in­dus­try are also adopt­ing

AI. Hal­libur­ton adopted a hy­brid global cloud us­ing ma­chine learn­ing, aug­mented re­al­ity and in­dus­trial IOT tech­nolo­gies to de­liver deep-learn­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties for reser­voir char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion, mod­el­ling and sim­u­la­tion, which im­proves knowl­edge of the reser­voir.

Hal­libur­ton shared its so­lu­tion with the in­dus­try through De­ci­plays sion­space 365, which the com­pany made avail­able on Mi­crosoft Azure, en­abling real-time IOT in­tel­li­gence for the en­tire sec­tor.

Another ex­am­ple is Sch­nei­der Elec­tric, where us­ing edge an­a­lyt­ics, they in­cor­po­rated AI and ma­chine learn­ing into their Realift so­lu­tion to add pre­dic­tive ca­pa­bil­ity into re­mote man­age­ment of rod pumps.

In that case, the con­troller can mod­ify the op­er­at­ing pa­ram­e­ters of the pump to avoid or mit­i­gate the im­pact of the un­ex­pected changes. Or, if nec­es­sary, it can shut down the pump be­fore any dam­age oc­curs and no­tify the com­pany that re­pairs are nec­es­sary—pro­tect­ing the ma­chin­ery, and pre­vent­ing po­ten­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age.

Such in­no­va­tions are real. They have pro­duced mea­sur­able and ad­van­ta­geous re­sults, in­clud­ing sus­tained and im­proved pro­duc­tion, op­er­a­tional ex­cel­lence en­hance­ments, cost re­duc­tions, pro­duc­tiv­ity surges and safer work­places.

The past few years have seen an in­crease in de­mand for cloud ser­vices across the GCC and wider MEA re­gion. A Mi­crosoft study found that more than 51% of or­gan­i­sa­tions in the Gulf iden­ti­fied cloud com­put­ing as a top pri­or­ity for adop­tion in 2018.

The surge in up­take of its so­lu­tions and in­no­va­tions led Mi­crosoft to an­nounce that it will de­liver its trusted, se­cure and ver­sa­tile cloud to Mid­dle East and Africa cus­tomers from four dat­a­cen­ters in the re­gion, two in the UAE and two in South Africa.

In the oil and gas in­dus­try, dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is noth­ing less than meta-en­ergy–en­ergy for the en­ergy in­dus­try. The in­tel­li­gent cloud is at the heart of this trans­for­ma­tion.

Oil and gas op­er­a­tors are in­creasinly turn­ing to dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to op­ti­mise op­er­a­tions

AI, cloud and IOT are some key tech­nolo­gies for the up­stream oil and gas sec­tor

Omar Saleh is the MEA di­rec­tor of man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­sources at Mi­crosoft

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