Oil and Gas is Going Digital (2019 Post-Summit Report)

Oil and Gas Post Summit Takeaways: leaders from Anadarko Petroleum, BP and Chesapeake Energy on the industry's push toward digital.


The Oil & Gas industry is going digital! Senior leaders tout it can help optimize business processes, reduce operational costs, lower risks and gain information in real time for instant decision making. The advent of the industrial internet, smart machines and big data are also helping transform once separate entities IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational Technology).

However, transitioning to digital continues to be a constant struggle for many organizations that still depend on paper files and spreadsheets. It also requires a cultural shift and companies are tasked with balancing the needs of an ageing workforce while attracting a new one.

These topics and more were discussed at length at the NG Oil & Gas Summit in June in Austin, Texas at the Hyatt Lost Pines.

The Oil and Gas Industry: Future Outlook

What is AI? Our Keynote Speaker, Lauren Goodwin, former VP Digital Transformation at BP simply broke it down in her Keynote address. “It’s math, statistics, computing AI – that’s it.” Goodwin also spoke about the forgotten components of AI. They include; data foundation, cyber security, practicality, and people.

“Invest in your people to learn AI, build bots, and teach them how to do this stuff,” Goodwin said.

When it comes to data foundation Goodwin said there needs to be deep learning and training. “Bring in suppliers – certain expertise that you as a provider may not have. Bring them in.” As for cyber security, “don’t risk everything if you don’t have a cyber security program. You have to discuss the risk and you have to have a strong security program,” said Goodwin. Cyber-attacks will target suppliers so it’s important to constantly do scans and hold suppliers to the highest risk factor.

While AI is capable of amazing things – Goodwin also encouraged organizations to leverage Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Her tips included; establishing a foundation (hire architects), building the culture (train within), and use common sense. “Focus on the high dollar areas that can easily get the highest return,” Goodwin said.

Lastly, she left an impression on the audience by expressing the need to bring more women into the oil & gas industry.

“Women can do this work!” Goodwin explained.

She said women are very dynamic thinkers and have the brain power to lead AI teams and projects. With their help it can take businesses to the next level.

Cutting Costs with Emerging Production Tech

Jason Offerman, Director – Production Technology Platforms at Chesapeake Energy, kicked off day 2 of our summit with a highly attended workshop about digital transformation in the oilfield. He gave examples of challenges and how new technology and AI can now solve several problems:

Challenge: Frozen hydrates plug pipes

Solution: Modern hardware: AI algorithms

“AI recommends when to make adjustments and we prevent hydrates from freezing” Offerman said. He also spoke about fueling the digital pipeline—advising organizations to use the cloud, mobile, artificial intelligence. One piece of advice included designing digital wells augmented by data. “It goes beyond visualization and drilling data could be streamed in real time into an app.”

While Chesapeake Energy established their strategy in 2018, Offerman said they still plan to execute new things to enhance their organization in 2019. They include; modern integration architecture, modern security approach, and user experience.

Advancing Safety Risk Management

Anadarko’s Gulf of Mexico operations have taken a structured approach to improving maintenance and reliability of the equipment on their several deep-water offshore facilities this past year. Geoffrey Streit, GM/ Production Operations at Anadarko Petroleum spoke about the company’s new philosophy and processes around maintenance that has been setting production records and improving safety performance.

“What does operational excellence look like?” Asked Streit.

He explained that it’s all about managing risk through process safety and increasing efficiency by eliminating waste. Streit spoke about Anadarko’s Journey to Operational Excellence:

How did Anadarko get there?

  • Culture prioritizing project execution over maintenance
  • Strategy to focus on subsea tiebacks/ brownfield
  • Projects vs greenfield development
  • Increasing downtime (planned and unplanned)
  • Reactive maintenance

Why operational excellence?

  • Reliable operations are safe and efficient
  • Protect our people, the environment and our equipment
  • Long-term planning and schedule stability reduce risk and increases safety

Streit said some key initiatives include; integrated forecasting and scheduling process, work-order management and downtime tracking / root cause analysis.

The Future of Energy Company Cultures

Culture was a big topic discussed at the NG Oil & Gas Summit. Jim Claunch the Former VP Business Efficiency at Equinor, discussed what will be different about culture in the future and building the workforce.

“Digital workers are replacing operators because of digital and digital tools,” Claunch said.

How do we get new engineers with this knowledge and know what’s going to happen next? Claunch admits it’s a huge challenge. But we are going to have new ways of working – and agile makes sense.

He also brought up the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. “We need leadership that came make everyone feel included and part of the team. Regardless how they work, how they dress – we need leadership to get this!”

However, Claunch said it’s going to take bold leadership for this to happen. “Companies are going to have to step out and do things out of their comfort zone. If you guys don’t lead it – it’s not going to change. If we don’t change, we won’t be there in the end.”

Leaders suggest going digital in Oil and Gas might optimise processes and lower risks but transformation projects require significant investment in time and expertise.

Finding solutions through tech and insights from others is key – that’s why we at GDS Group host experts who help experts. Check out our Oil and Gas events, summits and conferences for our upcoming Oil and Gas events and our Oil and Gas industry insights for more articles like this one.