Theme session: Digital Transformation of Oil and Gas Sector

Mr. Dipankar Das, MD, Deloitte Digital moderated the session. the Panelists included : Mr. D Rajkumar, CMD, BPCL, Mr. N. K. Verma, Former MD ONGC Videsh, Mr. Anand Laxmivarhan, Chief Digital Officer, Vedanta Cairn Oil & gas, Mr. Gerd Deusser, CEO, Siemens Power & Gas, South Asia, Mr. Manomoy Das, Associate Partner, IBM India, Mr Pramod Agrawal, CTO, BHGE.

Panelists opined that digital transformation in the Oil and Gas sector is still in the nascent stage, and there is a long way to go in this journey. However, they also added that digitalization is no more an option, but an imperative. Digital transformation has to be an integral part of the sector’s culture, and people in the industry should rise up and acknowledge their responsibility towards digital transformation. The technology is already there and has matured, and organisation need to translate this opportunity into reality and success for an organisation.

Dipankar Das from Deloitte Digital solicited the views of the panelists on whether digital is a buzzword in the Oil and Gas sector. The panel presented a mixed opinion, with BPCL’s D. Rajkumar mentioning that statistically, Oil and Gas features in the bottom of a parabolic curve of maturity. Some panelists felt that Oil and Gas achieved advancement at an earlier stage and hence should not be considered a laggard.

Delving further into his point of view, Rajkumar said that disruptive changes are still to be seen in this industry. He attributed this purely to the inherent way of functioning of the organisations in this industry which as a whole has been quite technologically robust for the last several decades. Moreover, the entry barriers in the industry are very high, which results in any investments being very cost intensive. These factors are an impediment and the sector has been long averse to radical change. The tide started to turn when a leading gas company brought in digital transformation measures and other players began giving digitalization due attention. However, this is still not a consolidated effort. He stressed that for there to be a digital revolution in the sector, organisations need to understand what digital transformation exactly implies, what potential it holds, and then drive the change as a business.

Anand Laxmivarhan from Vedanta Cairn Oil & Gas mentioned that digital transformation is no more a buzzword and whenever people talk about digital in manufacturing and Oil and Gas, there are two schools of thoughts. One thought is about digital being always there. In the late 90’s the industry moved sensor data over wireless in a manufacturing environment, and used that data to control processes optimally. His perspective was that while digitalisation was always there, it has been called by different names. Anand also spoke about utilising AI and block chain within the industry and opined that it may take a while.

He explained by saying that when businesses are faced with issues, they collaborate to explore how intelligent and creative application of emerging technologies holds the potential to resolve these issues.

Narendra K. Verma from ONGC Videsh Limited shared his thoughts about exploration and production- E&P (Upstream) being the first mover in Oil and Gas using digital data in the ’80s and ’90s. He said that there are two essential components for digitalisation: the business component and the technology component. iThe latter has already matured and the industry is currently trying to integrate both components. He also stressed that digital transformation should be driven by strategy and vision.

According to Gerd Deusser from Siemens Oil and Gas, technology is there to support the digitalisation in Oil and Gas industry. It is an organisation’s responsibility to decide what digitalisation can do for them and what the real benefits are of adopting digitalisation. He said that there is still a lot of potential in upstream, midstream, and downstream. Digital transformation is a top driven approach and needs an understanding of availability of tools and technology with people being made responsible for implementation.

Manomoy Das from IBM started the discussion with a point on the ways Oil and Gas organisations move. He categorised them as either leaders or floaters. To be a leader, an organisation needs to adopt new initiatives or display some competitive advantage. Resilience, agility, and efficiency go a long way in shaping organisations as leaders. In his view, this can be achieved by identifying core business values and then aiming/targeting those business values for digital transformation. Business values that can be targeted can be on the line of:

• What is accessible to the organisation’s people, do they need it?

• Does the organisation have the right culture and is it solving the required use cases?

• Is digital transformation a journey for an organisation?

BHGE’s Pramod Agrawal shared his opinion about the end goal of digitalisation. He said that there is friction in technology use and that there is a need to explore basic human motivation to adopt the technology. He concluded by stressing the desirability of collaboration and development in the ecosystem.

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