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Industry-wide digital transformation can help deliver the energy transition

When IOGP’s Digital Transformation Committee completes its work, engineers might work very differently than they work today. Transformational technology in the hands of field engineers, operators and maintenance staff could make a big difference to how safely and efficiently they work and we could see the integration of humans and machines delivering the demands of the energy transition.

The new Committee, chaired by Rob Kelly of bp, and supported by Vice Chairs Keith Johnston of Chevron and Milenija Stojkovic Helgesen of Equinor held its first meeting in January.

We asked them to share their thoughts on the challenges the industry is facing, and how the Digital Transformation Committee can play a role in an enhanced digital future.

Rob Kelly, VP Digital Production, Projects & Manufacturing, bp

“The operators are all behind making this work and I truly believe now is the time to make this happen,” says Rob, VP Digital Production, Projects & Manufacturing at bp. “IOGP Members have created some great foundations over the past few years, in particular CFIHOS (JIP36), which should provide a good springboard to launch from, and the committee Members have lots of passion to make things better for all. As I said at the meeting, I am 59 years old this year, and I genuinely see us making this digital transformation happen before I retire at 65!”

“I believe that our Industry is now ready and willing to pull our resources together to co-create the digital capabilities, reference architectures, and digital platforms to enable the transformation of the oil and gas industry.  As a Committee, our role and focus will be to design, orchestrate and drive this framework.”

Milenija Stojkovic Helgesen, Advisor, Operation & Maintenance, Equinor

Vice Chair Milenija, an Operation and Maintenance Advisor at Equinor, says she looks forward to working with leading professionals and organizations to facilitate a more efficient energy transition through effective application of digitalization practices. For fellow Vice Chair Keith, Digital Engineering Manager at Chevron, it was the opportunity to affect long lasting change in the energy industry through collaboration.

Digital transformation within the energy industry can improve sustainability and safety and reduce the carbon footprint. It can help the industry contribute to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, but there are challenges.

To Rob, the oil and gas industry has traditionally been very bespoke. “This has meant that our supply chain has had to try and cater for multiple different operator requirements, which is hugely inefficient for the overall industry,” he says. “This bespoke mindset has extended to all things including the foundations that you require to enable an effective digital transformation – that is standardized data, engineering standards, all business workflows, and standard industry digital platforms.  These are the keys – along with the right industry mindset – to a successful digital transformation. The cost of producing oil and gas needs to match that of renewable energy, which continues to reduce, otherwise it will become increasingly priced out of the energy mix.  The best lever to reduce these costs is through digital transformation, particularly if this can be delivered industry wide.”

“I see the complexity of achieving scalable solutions and overcoming barriers due to changes in business models as a challenge”, says Milenija. “As ‘use cases’ reach across ecosystems, the traditional models are destroyed and the needed changes require time. Digital transformation is happening across all value chains and industries. Without action through joint efforts, the opportunity to significantly increase efficiency and thus contribute to solving the energy challenge will be lost.”

Keith Johnston, Manager, Digital Engineering, Chevron

For Keith, a critical challenge has been the standardization of the data foundation underpinning the industry. “Unlike the digitalization progress made in discrete manufacturing, many of the design and management processes in the energy industry require complex engineering of equipment, systems, and facilities to deliver products,” he says. ”Our challenge as an industry is to standardize the data foundation that enables our ecosystems to become more reliable and repeatable in its delivery. Energy transition places further pressure on the pace at which our industry moves, changes, and evolves, and to keep up with that pace, standardization of data and leveraging digital innovation become key enablers to our success.”

The Committee will focus on building foundational elements in collaboration with standards development organizations, driving towards a single set of international information standards that can be recognized globally and used locally. It will also collaborate on data tools and transformational workflows, build uses cases, and deployment resources.

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