Ed Boufarh, vice president of measurement and controls at BHGE, Middle East, North Africa, Turkey & India speaks to Pipeline Magazine about its digital offering and how these support the industry transformation and growth strategy
How is BHGE involved in the digitalisation momentum in the oil and gas industry?
Baker Hughes, a GE company marks the integration of two entities that have had a historic presence and long-term commitment to the Middle East, supporting the oil and gas industry. Now, as a full-stream oil and gas business, BHGE builds on a heritage of over 125 years.
In addition to building on our strong footprint across the region, we now bring under one umbrella integrated oilfield, products and digital solutions.
BHGE is building and deploying software and digital solutions that will help the oil and gas industry achieve new levels of asset productivity, operational efficiency, and organisational transformation. From innovating new technology to improving efficiency in every step – from the reservoir to the refinery – BHGE is delivering digital solutions and technologies that are aligned to our customers’ transformational development and growth strategies for the oil and gas sector across the region.
What new technology have you recently launched? What are its applications and what benefit will this deliver to the industry?
BHGE offers a range of digital solutions. For businesses aiming to improve understanding of the subsurface faster to improve time to value, our JewelSuite reservoir and well modelling software can reduce modelling time by more than half of traditional solutions. In 2017, we introduced IntelliStream, a production optimisation software to give full field visibility for operators and improve production outcomes.
For businesses focused on improving asset reliability and integrity, we offer our Asset Performance Management (APM) software for improved uptime and predictive maintenance across oil and gas businesses and Predictive Corrosion Management (PCM) software for better monitoring and less risky inspections. BHGE also has a unique partnership with a startup called Hifi Engineering for a new solution called Vigilant which is a combination of high-fidelity fibre optics deployed on Predix, and delivers real-time pipeline event monitoring to asset owners.
The solution detects data such as leaks, strains, intrusions and temperature change and recommends corrective actions. Vigilant helps detect risks, delivers great asset integrity, faster detection of risks, hence fast decision making for corrective actions and improved uptime and increased productivity.
What is the role of Artificial Intelligence in delivering your software?
Data modelling isn’t new to the industry. But there has traditionally been a disconnect between operations teams who need to take immediate action and engineering teams that can build models over the course of several weeks, at which point the insights can’t be used. One of the core capabilities of AI is scaling intelligence across an enterprise to deliver near and real-time insights and automate processes so that data becomes useful.
For AI to be truly valuable, it can’t be generic. We think the deep domain expertise and analytics catalogue we’ve developed differentiates what we can deliver in terms of AI and deep learning capabilities for our customers. A process called tag mapping is a great example. When an oil and gas business starts bringing together data from disparate sources, more often than not different naming conventions were used for the physical assets giving off data. The manual process of bringing together different data and making sure the data is labelled correctly so it can actually be used is tedious and can take months. BHGE has used AI and trained the AI on oil and gas use cases so that data can be “tagged” in seconds. The end result is less time on a manual task and near-immediate access to a lot of valuable data.
How do you see the adoption of new technology towards digitalisation in the Middle East?
Digital transformation is an ongoing process. Oil and gas leaders who are adopting digital technologies to achieve new productivity and operational efficiencies are also considering the big picture of overall organisational change. BHGE is acting as a strategic partner in digital transformation, and we are delighted to see that we are on the same page with the development aspirations of the Kingdom and the region, which clearly takes digitalisation seriously.
We’ve seen early adopters looking at how digital can improve operations and productivity over the last few years. For example, we have recently conducted several user conferences for our Bentley Nevada business across the region and we’ve seen a lot of interest from our customers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
These are all indications that leaders in the region understand how technology can drive value in their operations, and we’re starting to see a significant increase in customers who want to invest in digital.
Where is the industry in adoption of digital technology? What barriers exist for customers looking to adopt?
I think we are past some of the hesitation that we’ve seen in previous years around “is digital real”? Now it’s a matter of “how,” not “if.” Customers now are looking at how to take some of the work they’ve done around digital and scale across the enterprise for more impactful results.
The hesitation around culture and change management also remains, and it will not go away, because that is a hurdle every organisation will have to pass. BHGE, along with our partner ecosystem, helps customers through that transition.