The goal of digitalisation at Neptune is simple: it’s how, through technology and digitisation, you can enable an E&P organisation to be safer and more responsible, ensure that production efficiency and growth is optimised and fast-track the efficient discovery of new hydrocarbons.
By applying technology smartly you can maximise efficiencies. And being efficient means you can reduce waste in every area of your business.
Our aim is to reduce the cycle of our projects and deliver assets more efficiently, ensuring that our people collaborate while continuing to retain and attract the best talent in the industry. Through technology, we’re making sure they’re engaged, productive and have the best access to information and knowledge.
That’s really the remit of Digitialisation. It’s about enabling business outcomes – it’s not about technology. Technology delivery is the easy part; impacting business outcomes and ensuring that they’re enabled through technology and digitisation – that is the most important element of all.
It’s about business transformation enabled through technology.
Far too much emphasis is put on riding the next wave of technological development, and often it becomes an isolated thing in E&P organisations – a geeky preoccupation with the means rather than the end.
Relative to other industries the upstream as a whole has been slow in the uptake of technology, and being a conservative industry we haven’t traditionally looked at technology to change ways of working.
It’s only in recent years where we’ve had market pressures on this industry – increasing regulation; disruptive industries within the energy sector – that E&P industries have had to turn to technology and digitisation to start reinventing themselves and looking at how to do things differently.
I’ve been in the technology industry for 30 years now and it’s really only in the last five years that we’ve seen the technology curve rising at a good pace in our sector. We talked about Artificial Intelligence (AI) 30 years ago, but it was just concepts. Now Machine Learning and AI have got to a stage where you can start applying them to solve enduring business problems.
My philosophy is to look at technologies holistically – you identify the outcomes you’re looking for and then put various solutions together to achieve those outcomes.
Start with the end in mind: if you want to improve the reliability of your assets and make sure production is optimised, how do you make sure you can predict equipment failures, incidents and downtime before they happen?
How can you be sure to schedule your maintenance at the right periods of time to maximise uptime?
How do you optimise the performance of your drilling by recognising the right patterns and anomalies that may exist, so the machine continuously learns?
People can now communicate with their assets. With the advancements in Augmented Reality (AR) solutions it’s not a theory any more – now you can be offshore with your AR goggles, supplying a huge amount of information about your equipment and diagnosing problems quicker.
This technology is not just making equipment and assets more intelligent – it’s making people more intelligent too.
People talk a lot about AI and machine learning taking people’s jobs – for me, there is a more significant element of AI which is augmented intelligence, as opposed to artificial intelligence – you are actually enhancing human intelligence.
If a machine tells you that some equipment requires maintenance at a particular time, that’s a piece of intelligence the maintenance engineer and operations manager can use to decide how to react.
Through these technologies, you’re removing some of the labour-intensive, manual tasks and freeing your people to focus on the more creative, qualitative, problem-solving tasks that really require human intervention. This is where true value can be added. You want your people to continuously improve your operations, your ways of working, to be a future-proof organisation.
It’s about capturing the right information to enable you to systematically improve your operations and business. And that requires human intelligence, fundamentally. It’s not about technology replacing jobs.
This is the first in a new series of NEPTUNE INSIGHTS articles, sharing industry experts’ views on challenges and opportunities for the upstream industry and beyond.