Google, Chevron execs say industry must keep up with data transformation, other tech trends

Kurt Abraham, Editor-in-Chief March 19, 2019

At the Norwegian Energy Day on Tuesday, March 19, hosted by the Norwegian Consulate General and several corporate sponsors, speakers from Google and Chevron told the audience that the oil and gas industry needs to do more, and do it faster, to adapt to the digital transformation and other related trends. “The oil and gas industry, in my mind, is behind in adopting emerging technology,” said Darryl Willis, V.P. for Oil, Gas & Energy at Google Cloud. Willis is uniquely positioned to comment on the situation, given his position at Google Cloud, as well as a 25-year oil and gas pedigree before that, which includes a number of increasingly responsible roles at BP, plus a 2 ½-year stint at TNK-BP.

Noting that “you cannot eradicate poverty without access to energy,” Willis said that “at least one billion people still have no access to energy.” He then told conference attendees that by embracing the digital transformation and other technological trends more thoroughly and quickly, the industry could do even more to expand energy supplies and the access to them. Willis said that energy “is an emerging unit at Google.” He noted that algorithms are already seeing more than humans can possible look at. Yet, he told the crowd not to fear technology. “Artificial Intelligence is an assistant, not a replacement, for us going forward,” quipped Willis.

“As an industry, we have to challenge ourselves to do things fast,” he continued. “Regarding exploration, we need to look at more data and find more insights. I want to see explorationists spend less time on menial tasks and more time on evaluation and (decision-making).” He also called on the industry to shorten cycle times and take out bigger chunks of time.

For his part, Boyd Parker, manager of the Supplier Management Office within Chevron’s Information Technology Company, focused on a number of data transformation trends that he sees affecting and altering how the industry operates. He said that the world is in the middle of a fourth “Industrial Revolution,” which is revolving around digital transformation. Accordingly, he sees four five-year trends worth noting: 1) Cloud and Edge are the new “compute background;” 2) There is exponential growth in data accessible for analytics; 3) APIs (application programming interfaces) are first in priority; and 4) Machine-to-machine interfaces and human-centricity applications are taking off.

Predicting that “everything that can be connected will be connected,” Parker said that “the digital platform has become the enterprise architecture.” But there has to be a business case in all of this, he cautioned. Accordingly, Parker says five factors are involved in enabling a business. These include: 1) production optimization; 2) maintenance optimization; 3) end-to-end materials and logistics management; 4) field force productivity enablement; and 5) real-time turn-around management.
In a final thought to the crowd, Parker said that “data is an asset, not just a by-product of operations.”

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