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How digitisation will help the oil and gas industry

How digitisation will help the oil and gas industry

Deploying technological tools will help regional oil and gas operators improve worker health and safety and innovate to find new solutions

The Covid-19 pandemic has served as a sharp reminder to various industries in the Middle East of the benefits of having a strong digital transformation strategy to ensure business continuity.

This is especially the case for the oil and gas sector, which remains a pillar of many national economies in the region. As a result of both Covid-19 and a subsequent drop in oil prices, the existing sector challenges of price volatility, operational costs, workforce shortages, safety, and environmental pressures have increased.

There have been regional energy companies – particularly those in the oil and gas arena – who have been embracing digitisation in recent years.

Their transformation is commendable, and a testament to how technology can help preserve business success. According to one whitepaper released by the World Economic Forum, digital transformation could unlock more than $1.6 trillion in new value for the global oil and gas industry between 2017 – 2027.

Nevertheless, the oil and gas industry as a whole still has room for more digitisation. The world’s demand for energy is only going to increase over the long-term, and that will require new tools to be deployed.

In today’s environment, there is an enormous opportunity for oil and gas companies to revitalise themselves and to push for real gains as the economy recovers from the effects of Covid-19. The industry should convert its challenges into opportunities for the future, and take this moment to help revolutionise the energy sector overall. That includes investing in advanced technologies to improve operational activities, enhancing their health and safety plans, and bolstering exploration and production.

On an operational level, leveraging emerging technologies such as AI and IoT can further enable real-time equipment and environmental-conditions monitoring, while also providing transparency and greater control over processes.

That will ultimately boost efficiencies. Through deeper ICT-led automation, companies’ operations can also be maintained and can continue to be productive even when dealing with a shrinking workforce. This will prove especially beneficial for business continuity as public health policies around Covid-19 evolve, aimed at protecting the health of human resources.

Speaking of human resources, the oil and gas industry still very much depends on people. Using digital tools to safeguard your workforce’s health and safety must remain a top priority. Through advances in IoT, we can now make it possible to use a single, function-rich terminal for more effective inspection as well as audio and video communication.

Precise tracking of personnel and assets in turn improves dispatch and command efficiencies.

In addition to operational activities, today’s high-performance computing solutions are also a strategic advantage in the race to discover oil. Mass information must be rapidly processed to accelerate decision-making. Holistic solutions that integrate a company’s hardware, systems, and cluster management, are now available to decrease the average service processing period from hours to minutes, and decrease the service processing error rate by more than half.

This is increasingly valuable as companies make exploration decisions based on an enormous body of seismic and other geological survey data, whether onshore or offshore.

Given today’s market challenges, nobody is under any illusions anymore. You either innovate or you disappear. Covid-19 has brought added pressure to this need for digital transformation in the oil and gas sector.

The good news is that there are ample opportunities to use digitisation to regain momentum in this recovery period, and right now, there is no time to waste.

Alaa Elshimy is the managing director and senior vice president, Huawei Enterprise Business Group, Middle East

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