Siersdorfer believes digitalisation can particularly benefit upstream operators in “getting oil and gas out of the ground and once it is out of the ground.” The systems at this point of the operation are not so greatly impacted by the new technologies available.
“We have never been a company that went into exploration and said ‘we have the technology to support you to find oil’ or whatever, but we have the technology to operate your pump much more efficiently, to operate it remotely, to monitor it remotely and even to use that data to optimise how you would pump the oil and understand how the reservoir would behave if you do it a certain way.”
Part of the reason for the slow implementation of new methodologies and technologies by the vast national and international oil companies might be explained by their instinctive caution, as they prefer to adopt a more modular and standardised approach to operations in order to reduce both costs and risks.
Siemens had earlier used their Innovation Day to unveil a $500mn investment in developing 20 MindSphere Application Centres, which will offer digital solutions in 17 countries around the globe, with two of them located in the UAE and one, in Abu Dhabi, specifically targeted at the oil and gas segment.
The strategy undoubtedly makes sense for a firm with Siemens’ expertise but a number of its competitors have rolled out similar hubs and solutions centres in recent times – what makes the Munich based firm’s offering different to the rest?
“When you go to the digital space, and again oil and gas is a very traditional industry, when you come there and say we have an application for you, and they should use it, most don’t do it because usually it is a very specific situation for each and every customer. You have maybe similarities for certain applications but adapting it to the need of the particular field and that particular situation, that is what is necessary.”
Siemens will use ‘co-creation’ and ‘co-location’ whereby solutions and applications can be devised hand-in-hand with the customer at their specific facility. Siemens will also bring in data scientists, rather than oil and gas experts, to generate ideas in more original and non-traditional ways. They will also tap into AI and deep learning techniques.
To hear a senior executive within Siemens mention AI is intriguing. Last month SparkCognition, an AI specialist, opened its Middle East office in Dubai and oil and gas is to be a focus for the firm – but how can intelligent agents genuinely help the industry?
Siersdorfer uses an example from the rail sector regarding AI analysing visual data from cameras to predict the fallibility of train doors as they open and close.
“Imagine you apply such things to an oil and gas facility, maybe even a remote one, where you have an operation where a valve has opened or closed or whatever, and nobody is checking that all the time. You have maybe your data in your control systems, but imagine you can predict now what will happen based on visual data.”