At an earlier seminar in Dubai, Siersdorfer had spoken optimistically about the regional oil and gas industry and that its potential outweighed many of the geopolitical factors that constantly loom above it. But some of his positivity centres on how he sees the industry evolving and innovating in different directions.
“Many people talked, in the past, that the oil and gas market is down and maybe we come now to bury it. I don’t think that is the case. There will be, the next two hundred years for oil and gas, we will see many of these things in very efficient uses, for example in power generation, but maybe we will not see oil and gas used in the mid-term and long-term for individual travel, because we may not use benzene and diesel and whatever in cars, this will move into another way.”
If the rise of the electric vehicle is a worry for one area of the downstream market, Siersdorfer sees original and exciting possibilities in others – including construction.
“We can use different kinds of materials in the future to build structures. Today, we use concrete, all kinds of solid materials, steel and whatever, who says we can’t build structures in the future that are based more on polymers, and more on other ways like this, and maybe you can do that more efficiently than you do that today, with more technologies.”
Siersdorfer also believes technological advances, and support from firms like his own, will help unlock presently untapped potential at existing oilfields so that new exploration sites won’t need to be established, thus saving capital expenditure, and newer technologies will hold the key to maximising returns.
When it is put to him that perhaps Siemens, considering its range of technical expertise, could have a bigger foothold in the region’s hydrocarbon sector, Siersdorfer disagrees and points, as one example, to the German outfit’s award of a major engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Taweelah Gas Compressor Station in Abu Dhabi, a “very strategic” project, pumping gas from the UAE capital to Dubai.
Siemens’ involvement in Egypt and Cyprus in newly discovered giant gas fields, alongside Italian oil supermajor Eni, is certainly evidence of a prominent role in some of the region’s biggest and fastest-growing projects.
But one of the most notable disruptions to impact the oil and gas sector recently has been the gradual implementation of automation and digitalisation. However, Siemens’ regional chief suggests the hydrocarbon sector has more progress to make.
“I think in the oil and gas sector we are at the beginning of digitalisation. What we have seen is that the oil and gas industries are very traditional industries. So adapting to new technologies, they are usually not the frontrunners, they are usually the late adopters. So that gives a lot of possibility.
“What the oil and gas industry realises is that they sit on a lot of data, which they can use and I am talking more about operational data. In the exploration and geology of the fields, I think they are the masters already.”