For years, Big Oil played catch-up with the banking, e-commerce, and retail industries in embracing digitalization and new technologies to boost profits and efficiency.
Over the past year, however, Big Oil and many companies in the upstream and downstream segments have started to adopt a growing number of digital solutions to seek cost cuts through innovation and new technologies. Many oil and gas firms, especially the world’s biggest, are already using data analytics, cloud computing, digital oil fields, digital twins, robotics, automation, predictive maintenance, machine learning (ML), and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Technology consultancy firms say that the number of companies using advanced digital solutions for their businesses will only grow in the future.
Although the oil and gas sector was slower than others to come on board with digitalization, now digital disruption and transformation is front and center of every oil industry conference anywhere in the world.
And now oil and gas firms have started to form partnerships with oilfield services providers and Big Tech to work to digitally transform operations.
The industry’s first three-party collaboration comes from three of the biggest companies in their respective sectors – U.S. oil and gas supermajor Chevron teamed up with the world’s biggest oilfield services firm, Schlumberger, and with tech giant Microsoft to accelerate the creation of innovative Petro technical and digital technologies.
Under the partnership, the companies will jointly work to build Azure-native applications in Schlumberger’s DELFI cognitive E&P environment initially for Chevron. This will help companies to process, visualize, interpret, and obtain insights from many data sources.
“We believe this industry-first advancement will dramatically accelerate the speed with which we can analyze data to generate new exploration opportunities and bring prospects to development more quickly and with more certainty,” said Joseph C. Geagea, executive vice president, technology, projects and services for Chevron.
“It will pull vast quantities of information into a single source amplifying our use of artificial intelligence and high-performance computing built on an open data ecosystem,” Geagea added.
Schlumberger’s CEO Olivier Le Peuch said:
“Working together will accelerate faster innovation with better results, marking the beginning of a new era in our industry that will enable us elevate performance across our industry’s value chain.”
Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella noted that “There is an enormous opportunity to bring the latest cloud and AI technology to the energy sector and accelerate the industry’s digital transformation.”
Microsoft, as well as many other tech giants including Amazon, Google, and ABB Group, is already selling digital solutions to the biggest oil and gas companies in the world. Chevron and Exxon have teamed up with Big Tech to unlock opportunities and efficiencies in their key growth priority, the Permian basin.
‘Digital’ is already a fundamental part of the business for energy companies, Accenture said in a research report this year.
According to an Accenture survey, 97 percent of upstream and 91 percent of downstream executives report that emerging technologies have sped up the pace of innovation in their organizations over the past three years.
Distributed ledger technology, AI, extended reality, and quantum computing- – or DARQ as Accenture has dubbed the four technologies – have the potential to transform the energy industry, according to the firm.
A total of 80 percent of upstream and 90 percent of downstream executives are currently experimenting with one or more of these four technologies, Accenture’s poll showed. In addition, 76 percent of upstream firms and 80 percent of downstream companies agree that the combination of all four technologies will bring extensive changes to their business, higher than the global average of 69 percent. Unsurprisingly, AI is the top cited technology of these four as the one capable of creating the greatest impact on energy firms over the next three years.
“The next challenge is to develop the next generation of technologies to become really differentiated and stay ahead of the competition,” Richard Holsman, Global Digital Lead for Resources, serving the oil & gas, chemicals, natural resources and utilities industries, and Julie Adams, Global Energy Research Lead, said in Accenture’s report.