Digitalisation is still in the early stages, and we are yet to realise the full power of the insights it can provide.

Hamad AL DALALI Country Director, Kuwait BAKER HUGHES

Emerging technological trends in oil and gas

August 1, 2023

Hamad Al Dalali, Kuwait country director for Baker Hughes, talks to The Energy Year about key trends driving Kuwaiti oil and gas production efforts and the company’s footprint in Kuwait’s upstream sector. Baker Hughes is an oilfield services company providing products and services for oil well drilling, formation evaluation, completion, production and reservoir consulting.

What are the key trends driving the Kuwaiti oil and gas production efforts?
If you look at the last couple of years, there hasn’t been any significant shift in the market here in Kuwait, other than a focus on producing a competitive barrel of oil. The strategy of KPC has been to produce the most competitive as well as the least carbon-intense barrel of oil in the world. The target, for us and for KPC, is to reduce it to net zero in the future.
In 2023, we all have extremely ambitious targets, with Kuwait as a country aiming to reach 4 million barrels of oil by 2040. How can this be achieved? Traditionally, the mindset was “we need to bring more rigs for us to drill wells and increase production.” But what you’re seeing is that despite drilling more wells and increasing access to the reservoirs, there is still a decline in oil production, which is neutralising the growth in wells.
Ideally, the goal is for us to achieve the production targets in the most cost-effective way. We can best enable an increase in production not only by drilling significantly more wells, but by making existing wells more efficient. It’s about leveraging tools like digitalisation, automation, AI and more. For digitalisation, it’s more of the full value chain rather than us simply looking at silos and what we can do to focus on that bigger picture. What we’ve seen in the last couple of years is an increase in ambition, coupled with realistic strategies and new management, which bring more momentum to drive the agenda of “we know that our targets are very challenging and recognise the need for support from all our partners to really deliver it.”

What is the footprint of Baker Hughes in Kuwait’s upstream sector?
Looking at the oilfield services offering Baker Hughes has, you can find traditional services, like drilling wells, completing them, cementing them, artificial lift and everything with regards to drilling the well all the way up to the wellhead. However, we also have a business where we supply non-metallic pipelines, from the wellhead to booster stations and gathering centres. At the same time – this is where the additional differentiator comes in – Baker Hughes has a business segment which supplies turbines, pumps and more. Looking at our footprint in the gathering centres, you will find a significant number of turbines, pumps and compressors that are made and provided by Baker Hughes.
Taking it a step further, we have a product line called Bently Nevada, which provides condition-monitoring services and solutions to all the critical machinery that operates gathering centres and booster stations in Kuwait. When I look at Baker Hughes, we have oilfield services, wellheads and pipelines, a footprint within gathering centres in terms of machinery, but also the software that controls these critical machineries that operate and produce oil and gas.


How is the company assisting KOC in its production maximisation goals?
As of now, within the upstream sector, there is more of a focus on individual services rather than integrated solutions. The best way that we’ve been supporting KOC until now has been through delivering top-notch services, which are extremely efficient. This is what enables KOC to drill wells much faster and reach production targets. Moving forward, Baker Hughes will differentiate itself from others in providing solutions to its operators rather than piecemeal services.
At the same time, part of the strategy in KOC’s production plan is not based on primary recovery or the drilling of wells; it’s based on EOR. We were awarded a critical contract for KOC, a polymer injection pilot project. We are currently assessing the success of this pilot and its impact on KOC’s production.
Another way we are assisting is with the water treatment project. KOC produces more water than oil. For us, one of the critical areas was to understand how we can utilise this water by treating it, filtering it and reusing it. One of our projects included a water treatment scope, where KOC had several mini-projects for water treatment. We chose to pick the one that had the most stringent water quality criteria because we wanted to showcase that this is an area of interest to us, and that we have access to the technology to solve this problem for them.

Where do you see more growth happening for Baker Hughes in Kuwait?
Downstream developments have a lot of potential, in particular the upcoming petrochemical complex. One of the biggest challenges that we are seeing is delays in projects coming to light. When you look at the downstream and midstream sectors, that’s the one thing that’s missing. I think we’re extremely well positioned in terms of technology offerings across the entire value chain, with the most comprehensive range in the industry. When I look at certain product lines, I believe that we’re way ahead of the rest, especially in artificial lift and directional drilling. Where we differentiate ourselves completely is in brownfield development, and we are making sure that this remains an area where we are the leader.

How effective is Kuwait being in driving its digitalisation journey?
We’re still at the beginning of a long journey. At the digital oilfield level, excellent progress has been made in terms of the visualisation of data coming from multiple field sources and displaying that data in a way that is digestible to the user. There remain numerous opportunities to integrate scalable novel tools and workflows that leverage this data in order to optimise production and reduce asset downtime through analytics, AI and ML [machine learning]. Digitalisation is still in the early stages, and we are yet to realise the full power of the insights it can provide. It is a very exciting space. This is certainly a key area where I feel that more focus should be placed so that the significance of this journey is understood across the sector.

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