ADNOC leads an ever-more digital industryNovember 9, 2020
Abu Dhabi is experiencing its Fourth Industrial Revolution, and there has never been a better time. The dual shock has swept across the Gulf, putting the entire industry to the test. Digitalisation has proven to be the country’s saving grace, shielding its energy sectors and propelling its “Oil & Gas 4.0” mission forwards.
Digital transformation has emerged as a catalyst for change for today’s energy industry. Oil-producing nations are working to redefine operations through technology, with the aim of unlocking the numerous opportunities that lay below and above the surface.
Abu Dhabi has become a world referent as it leads the way in digital transformation and reaps its benefits. Today, the emirate is a powerhouse for technology and innovation in the Middle East. Its hydrocarbons industry relies more than ever on smart systems such as IoT, big data and blockchain to optimise performance.
ADNOC has steered the emirate’s digital pledge through its “Oil & Gas 4.0” mission, aimed at maximising its abundant crude oil and natural gas reserves. With the dual crisis hitting the heart of the industry, it might be time to rethink oil and gas operations, and Abu Dhabi is a step ahead.
In recent years, ADNOC has worked to achieve an advanced digital environment. The NOC has applied the latest technology to its operations, from oil platforms to trading platforms, as an essential part of its growth strategy. For example, it recently launched its blockchain pilot programme with IBM, enabling effective and secure transactions across the entire value chain. Moreover, aligned with the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031, ADNOC is investing millions in the area of AI to upgrade facility management and smart consumption.
By adopting the newest technology, the company has sharpened its overall efficiency and competitive edge, proving to be equipped for any market disruption that might come its way. Thus, the early ignition of the emirate in the digital era has been key when facing the crisis, and will allow Abu Dhabi to emerge from it even stronger.
STATE OF THE ART: The high point of ADNOC’s tech journey so far has been the creation of the Panorama Digital Command Center. Since its inception, it has become the tech-driven spinal cord of the company, and a masterpiece in the world of hydrocarbons 4.0.
Located in ADNOC’s headquarters, Panorama monitors every single molecule from the 3 million bopd of crude oil and 277.5 mcm (9.8 bcf) per day of natural gas the company produces. An integrated data system assembles real-time information fed from ADNOC’s 14 sub-companies in order to upgrade production and predict disruptions.
The display of Panorama’s command is channelled through a 50-metre plasma wall that features more than 120 dashboards and 200,000 data points coming from ADNOC’s operations in the UAE and abroad. Every single aspect of the firm’s value chain is monitored, bringing upstream, midstream and downstream onto a sole digital platform. With it, the 57 different control rooms scattered across production sites, gas processing facilities, distribution centres, refineries and crackers, along with 150 vessels managed by ADNOC, are successfully integrated.
Certainly, the centre reflects the pace at which digital transformation is taking over the industry. From big data to AI, a holistic approach has defined ADNOC’s digital journey, and Panorama is the hub for it all. Powered by AVEVA software, the system gathers large volumes of data from more than 10 million onsite sensors and numerous data systems to be processed and mined, obtaining real-time insight on operations. This allows ADNOC to keep its eyes on the field to increase the speed, accessibility and overall efficiency of its operations.
Through smart analytical models and AI, data value is maximised, enabling the company to identify operational downtime but also predict potential failures. This, added to its centralised nature, has not only optimised operations but has also increased the company’s savings.
“Panorama puts big data at the fingertips of our sharpest minds. It allows us to better integrate the entire hydrocarbons value chain, and to continuously monitor and benchmark our performance,” Abdul Nasser Al Mughairbi, digital senior vice-president of ADNOC, told The Energy Year in 2019.
Within Panorama, the Thamama Subsurface Collaboration Center deals with complexities inherent to exploring and producing from Abu Dhabi’s rich reservoirs. By means of AI, it can monitor up to 120 drilling sites in one take, aiming to increase rig and drilling performance. The symmetry between both centres provides ADNOC with valuable reservoir information in order to unlock untapped resources and enhance recovery from maturing fields.
Hence Panorama has become the axis of the UAE’s hydrocarbons industry, enabling the nation to boost production-profit value, while reducing costs. Its importance has been underscored during the pandemic, where it has proven to be a digital fortress, helping ADNOC to navigate the storm.
In May 2020, ADNOC announced that Panorama had contributed an estimated USD 1 billion in business value since its creation. This is remarkable given the unprecedented times the industry is experiencing, and reflects the level of resilience within the company’s business model.
Digital seeds the emirate has sown during previous years have allowed ADNOC to face the global turmoil by being more agile and responsive in the face of its threats. The sudden ramping up of the UAE’s production from 2.99 million bopd in February 2020 to 4 million bopd in April, following the Saudi-Russian oil clash, reflects how Abu Dhabi’s hydrocarbons industry has stood strong during the storm.
Furthermore, Covid-19 has enhanced the use of Panorama’s remote utilities, which has positioned ADNOC ahead of the curve, providing a glimpse ahead to a world where remote operations are the norm. As the world emerges into a post-Covid-19 era, much can be learned from Abu Dhabi and its journey into 4.0.
ENTRENCHING DIGITAL: Abu Dhabi’s industry stamina owes much to the partnerships ADNOC has sealed in the area of technology. In November 2019, ADNOC and Honeywell signed a 10-year agreement to upgrade predictive maintenance. The NOC will use the latest Honeywell Forge APM system, which relies on a combination of performance monitoring, machine learning and predictive analytics to identify asset failure ahead of time. The company will monitor around 2,500 pieces of critical rotating equipment, which is expected to translate into higher asset performance and reliability.
Parallel to this, ADNOC has also linked up with Total to deploy the super-major’s latest seismic acquisition system. Total’s Multiphysics Exploration Technology Integrated System, or METIS, will use autonomous drones to drop seismic sensors that will then be retrieved by land UAVs. This technology is new to the region, and will allow ADNOC to process 3D- and 4D-seismic information in real time, enhancing its exploration capabilities.
Likewise, ADNOC is prioritising AI, as witnessed in its latest partnership with AI and cloud computing firm Group 42 (G42). The companies have established a strategic joint venture which will channel G42’s computing cluster solutions and software designs towards oil and gas operations. The new venture will bring AI solutions to the heart of the industry, which will help it respond to unforeseen market jolts.
Lastly, technology rests at the core of ADNOC’s sustainability quest as the NOC aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by 25% by the year 2030. In January 2020, it joined with Eni to further advance carbon capture, utilisation and storage solutions. Through combined R&D efforts, ADNOC hopes to develop new technologies that will improve the use of CO2 for enhanced recovery and help accelerate decarbonisation.
The digitalised industry ADNOC has succeeded in forging has proven resilient in the crisis. In fact, technology has been decisive for many oil and gas companies in the emirate. Like in previous shocks, cost cutting is the first response for many industry players. But deploying technology such as AI, IoT and blockchain is now essential to mitigate the effects of oil slumps, as they have been proven to increase uptime, optimise performance, enhance safety and, above all, maximise savings.
“Today, customers are more open to digital enablement as the business has become very competitive,” Ghassan Mirdad, Schlumberger’s president for the Eastern Middle East region, told The Energy Year. “With recent oil price fluctuations, companies want to be able to operate in the safest, most sustainable and cost-efficient means possible.”
Furthermore, risk response and timing have also been important differentiators when defining a company’s performance in the crisis. Data analysis has paved the way for quick responses and enabled firms to anticipate possible market blows. Here, scenario-based mitigation strategies have been key to staying ahead, which has made data-driven decision-making an added value.
Lastly, digital management and automated tools have enabled business continuity, as many onsite operations and corporate roles can be carried out remotely. As an example, ADNOC managed to run its operations swiftly with 90% of its Panorama staff working from home, with more than 30 million minutes of video and audio meetings during two months of lockdown.
As Ayman Khattab, Baker Hughes’ vice-president for the Gulf, North Africa and India, told The Energy Year, “The Covid-19 crisis is helping expedite the adoption of digitalisation in our industry as the concepts of AI and remote operations are becoming more accepted by customers.”