the digital transformation opportunity

Chevron Upstream Europe

Greta Lydecker, managing director of Chevron Upstream Europe, shares her thoughts on the digital transformation opportunity.

Greta Lydecker, managing director of Chevron Upstream Europe, recently addressed a group of Aberdeen’s business, government and third sector leaders on the opportunities and challenges of the digital transformation.

“We are on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another,” said Greta, when addressing the room of 120 members of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.

“The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity and access to knowledge, are unlimited. Today the energy sector is undergoing digital transformation and a technological re-organisation of its methods and industrial processes.

“In the next few years the oil and gas industry will be experiencing rates of digital disruption that will drastically reshape the common operating procedures we know today. This disruption is a good thing – I like to think of it as transformative.  Leveraging new technology is what will keep reliable and safe energy supplies available for all of us.  We have already seen fully-automated drilling operations, autonomous inspection of pipelines and the rig-less plugging and abandonment of wells.

“Other advances are happening in subsea processing systems, intelligent wells technologies, real-time monitoring, robotics and augmented reality. We are only just now touching the opportunities for robotic process automation, predictive reliability and maintenance analytics and self-learning reservoir modelling.

“However, it’s the people – with the right skills for this new way of working – that will be critical to our success. We need multi-skilled petrotechs who can manipulate and extract insights from masses of data. Our industry needs graduates to help us understand how best to innovate and develop the new technologies that will add value. The sustainability of hard won gains recently achieved in the North Sea depend on it.

“Across the enterprise at Chevron we have sought to define how we will harness the value of digital technology, aligned with our Corporate strategy of Differentiating our Performance through Technology.

“We have started to explore the benefits of Robotic Process Automation bots to take manual tasks, automate them and free up people to focus on higher value work. One bot just launched automatically populates a database with well test data from our fields that supports well allocation and ultimately leads to efficient reservoir management. There are numerous productivity gains to be had in this space and we are looking at how we can automate workflows in other functions such as finance, planning and supply chain.

“Advances in digital technologies, including analysis of real-time information, will continue to enhance decision quality and speed, such as at our Drilling and Completions Decision Support Centre, which helps drive efficiency by leveraging automated systems to monitor our worldwide operations in real-time.

“The development of large datasets can help transform the way the automation is applied, enabling real-time monitoring and control of operations. This in turn improves our ability to predict when critical equipment will need to be replaced. In a nutshell the objective of all of this is to help you know what you should know before you know it. The emergence of global platforms and other new business models means that talent, skills and organisational forms will have to be rethought.

“In all this, we’ve found that there are two important aspects to make quicker impact. We need to try things, test and fail fast or adjust to a new solution. The other dimension is to develop what is minimally required for viability and let the users refine things. 

“In my own experience, this work requires someone who knows the business drivers, someone who knows maths, and someone that knows where the data is and how to access it. Data needs to be integrated along the entire value chain. We need to think more like Tech Companies – data is not a cost to acquire but an asset that we can make work for us.

“I see three imperatives to capture the digital transformation opportunity. Firstly, we need a shared understanding and commitment to collaboration for digital in the industry. The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has launched their Open Networks which enables anyone to access a wealth of public data on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) in an amazingly easy way. It’s for anyone to use to drive better business decisions. We also need to continue to support our local Universities, training organisations like OPITO and schools to help them understand the changing needs of business and the kinds of skills that will be required.

“Secondly by building a long term strategic roadmap with government, a focus on transformational technology with a digital strategy could drive further long term, sustainable improvements in safety, efficiency and productivity.

“Finally, we need to foster a healthy diversity of technology pathways to encourage innovation. We need to be working with a range of actors from universities and entrepreneurs to other industries. Working with industry technology organisations like the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) and the Oil and Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC) to help trial and test emerging technologies.

“I am very optimistic about how digital technology will help the North Sea succeed. The combination of computing capability and data science enables businesses to gain insights and improve decision making through the application of advanced analytics, modelling and related technologies.

“Digital is a key driver of productivity by enabling our people to focus on higher value work. Every organisation needs to understand our changing environment, gain fluency of digital transformation, so we can continuously innovate and improve.

"I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be left behind.”