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Future Oil & Gas sets scene for industry future

12th June 2019

The opportunities to be gained by the oil and gas industry by capitalising on the potential of digital transformation and the challenges which still have to be overcome were among the main points for discussion during day one of the Future Oil & Gas conference at Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University (RGU).

Alexander Burnett MSP, Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy
Alexander Burnett MSP, Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy

More than 230 delegates and speakers from around the world have been sharing views and debating topics under the theme Unlocking Success in your Digital Transformation.

In welcoming delegates to the event Matthew Astill, CEO of the Cavendish Group, said their role as organiser was to provide a platform for new collaborations and ultimately real business.

“To help achieve this we have produced a high level, and content-rich conference, during which we will aim get to the heart of how the digital transformation is driving change,” he said. “We believe that technology lies at the centre of new efficiencies, new business models and organisational structures, new skills, and new investments. We also believe that it lies at the heart of the energy transition with both the immense opportunities this offers, and the adjustments it will in time present.”

The conference, which returns to Scotland for the third year, was opened by Alexander Burnett MSP, Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy.

He said that Scotland is now at the forefront of data science and its applications currently have no boundaries.

“Technology remains core to the offshore sector as companies continually look to improve their operational efficiencies and the allocation of capital.

“Digitalisation is bringing forward a new wave of technologies that will change the way we do business, run operations and in particular the skills required by the workforce,” he said.

“This presents a major challenge to the upstream business – to operator and supply chain companies alike. However, this also presents a great opportunity for the UK Continental Shelf which I believe will be at the forefront of digital innovation for the offshore sector.”

Much of the conversation during the various workshops and presentation focussed on skills issues – the need to retrain the existing workforce, to attract young people into the industry and the challenge of preparing for a work force of the future, many of whom will hold jobs that don’t yet exist.

That point was highlighted by David Rennie, Head of Oil & Gas at Scottish Enterprise who delivered the opening keynote. Quoting from a recent study conducted by industry body Opito and RGU he said that in just six years, the O&G industry needs to attract 25,000 new people.

“Four thousand, five hundred of those will be into completely new roles that do not currently exist in areas such as data science, automation and new materials,” he said. “Future roles may include ‘Artificial Intelligence Business Developer’, ‘Virtual Reality Journey Builder’ and ‘3D Material Scientist’. 

“Technology convergence around automation and AI, alongside digitisation, data and advanced analytics, is transforming the economy, jobs market and how we work. It will radically change the shape of demand in the labour market – replacing easily automated tasks and creating completely new occupations. It will also put a premium on digital, inter-personal, high-level cognitive skills and adaptability. It also has the potential to deliver better and safer working environments, higher incomes and greater job satisfaction.”

The day also several case studies being presented by Blackberry, RigNet,  Tullow Oil, Modec, The Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) and i-Tech 7 as well as several panel sessions and keynote presentations by IBM and Pemex. as

Running alongside the main conference and exhibition for the first time was the Technology Innovation Showcase, a series of curated presentations delivered by technology experts from IBM, OPEX Group, Microsoft, Immerse, Electrosonic, Kongsberg Digital, GHGSat and Blackberry. There were also contributions from  OGTC’s TechX Pioneer technology accelerator programme and Strathclyde University’s Advanced Forming Research Centre.

Day 2 of the event will focus on the theme of long-term, strategic vision for the oil & gas industry.