BHGE’s Unify makes the case for digital technology in O&G, saying "we can do better"


HOUSTON -- “Technology is no longer the bottleneck, it’s the enabler,” said Matthias Heilmann, president and CEO of digital solutions at BHGE, at the company’s second Unify conference, held this week in Houston. This sentiment was echoed throughout the day on Tuesday, as the forum “for practitioners, by practitioners” held presentations focused on how digital technologies can be utilized to drive agility, reliability and profitability.

Matthias Heilmann

During an HSE moment, Health, Safety & Environmental Leader Jordan Buss shared some thought-provoking statistics. He explained that 90% of incidents that occur in oil and gas fields are caused by human factors. Last year, BHGE boasted 128 perfect HSE days; however, the company says it is committed to reaching zero through the use of digital technologies that help eliminate risks.

Kausar Qazilbash, managing director of analytics for resources industries at Accenture, reiterated the need for oil and gas to catch up with other industries, in terms of the digital technologies being adopted in the field. Qazilbash said that oil and gas is the least mature when it comes to digitalization.

“In our industry, we have an opportunity to use data to win,” said Darryl Willis, V.P. of oil, gas and energy at Google Cloud. “We only use about 5% of the data we have at our disposal—we can do better.” He explained that the industry can benefit from bridging the gap between the digital world and the industrial world.

Torbjørn Folgerø, chief digital officer at Equinor, also stressed the many benefits of digitalization within the oil and gas industry. He said that data can provide an extreme amount of answers, if you ask the right questions, and quoted a recent headline published by The Economist last year, “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.”

During the various conference sessions, BHGE’s Unify showcased examples of some of its top digital offerings. Digital products demonstrated at the conference included geomodeling software, JewelSuite; Applied AI; production optimization software, Intellistream; and field service management software, ServiceMax.

Wednesday, Binu Matthew, global head of digital products at BHGE, carried the theme forward with a discussion about technology trends in the data stream and how it affects O&G. “Things that are happening today will cause massive changes in five or 10 years, and we have no idea what that is going to look like.” Matthew went on to discuss how critical it is to adapt to technological change, bridge data silos with advanced analytics, and provide reliable solutions to customers.

A live demonstration using AI capabilities in the oil and gas industry was presented by Arun Subramaniyan ,V.P. of data science and analytics. Five-hundred wells that required attention were identified using digital twin models. Calibration of the wells—a process that usually takes weeks to complete—took just minutes, according to Subramaniyan.

During a discussion with Dr. Paula Doyle, director of customer success at Cognite, Subramaniyan opened-up a dialogue highlighting best practices in cultural success. Doyle suggested that the “best ways for companies to break silos is to contextualize data and enable a thriving ecosystem.” They continued with discussions around open-source data, attracting top talent from the gaming industry and scaling vertically.

Roundtable discussion at BHGE Unify 2018

Global Head of Strategy, Marketing and Operations at BHGE Digital, Georgy Murphy, led a roundtable discussion featuring Bradley Ford, director of asset optimization and organization at KBC Advanced Technologies; Brian Richards, managing director of Accenture’s Houston innovation hub; and Caroline Brown, global account executive at Microsoft. The group discussed the ecosystem approach for delivering services and solutions at pace and scale.

Frost & Sullivan’s Consulting Manager Ramasamy “Ram” Muthuraman, discussed surviving and thriving in a world of cyber threats and increased connectivity. According to Muthuraman, the oil and gas cybersecurity outlook includes vulnerabilities—such as human error, endpoint security and lack of cybersecurity—which should be addressed by continued and renewed workforce training, conducted by experienced, knowledgeable companies, who have cybersecurity priorities.

Graphics processing units (GPUs) were examined by Jim McHugh, V.P. and general manager at NVIDIA.  McHugh discussed writing software that relies on data, training and inferencing. According to the NVIDIA website, if the CPI is the brain of the PC, the GPU is its soul. The GPU goes far beyond basic graphics controller functions, and is a programmable and powerful computation device. Used primarily for 3D gaming, now the GPU capabilities are being harnessed more broadly to accelerate computation workload in the oil and gas industry.

The Unify Conference concluded with BHGE President and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli, as he delivered his closing keynote. “We believe that digital enablement will accelerate everything across every piece of the fullstream value chain,” said Simonelli. “Our belief is that 80% of our industrial internet of things deployments will be fit-for-purpose.”


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