Speaker Spotlight: Prashant Soni discusses digital transformation in Oil & Gas

Prashant Soni is a key player in Business Transformation and Technology at Aker BP. He brings significant experience in combining business strategy with technological innovation.

As digital advancements continue to impact industries, the oil and gas sector is increasingly focusing on innovation. We spoke with Prashant, a regular attendee of the Digital Oil & Gas Summit, to get his views on the summit and the future of the oil and gas industry.

Representing Aker BP, what initially drew you to attend the Digital Oil & Gas Summit, and what brings you back each year?
The main reason is the theme “IoT in O&G” which drew me to this conference. IoT technology enables digitalization and there are very few conferences on this very topic. The diverse audience (operators, suppliers, and technology providers) is also one of the attractions for me and that brings me back each year. In addition, the conference program covers not just the problems O&G is facing but also showcases the solutions which are being implemented and so the failures.

In your view, why is the Digital Oil & Gas Summit an important event for professionals in this industry?
If you are interested in abstractive talks and champagne in the evening, I am sorry this is not the event for you. However, if you are willing to participate actively, wish to listen to experts about challenges, solutions, and failures on the enabling technologies for digitalization DIGOG is that event. There are roundtables on the present hot topics, 1:1 meeting opportunities, fireside chat, and solid panel discussions to look forward to.

How have you seen the oil and gas industry evolve in terms of digital transformation over the past few years?
The whole digital space (seismic, wells etc) how we harvest, utilize & analyse data on an industrial scale and this possibility is changing the business model fundamentally. Slowly but steadily the industry had embraced Digitalization which is not just about technology but the ability to change and take out value. It is important that digital tools drive-up efficiency. If you are not driving up efficiency it is just technical improvement and not a transformation. Now we experience talking to peers, partners, and suppliers that connectivity, mobility, automation & cyber security are popping up on meeting agendas.

What are some of the biggest challenges currently facing the oil and gas industry, especially in the context of digital transformation?
Most of the enabling technologies for digitalization are there but the willingness to adapt & adopt is perhaps lacking. The transformation wouldn’t be complete without changing the processes and the way we work with organization. Perhaps culture is one of the main challenges as I see it. But those who have overcome this obstacle meet with Data Quality and Information Management difficulties. Competence (both access to and improvement) is also a challenge which must be overcome sooner rather than later.

Based on your experience, what emerging trends do you foresee shaping the oil and gas industry in the next five years?
These are not emerging trends but are evolving. In the coming years we will experience the power of predictive maintenance realized through predictive Digital twins, a lot of repetitive work will be assigned to Robotics and performed through Automation.  Meaning that we will be operating at a completely different level of precision and that will enable us to lower OPEX, increase plant up-time and reduce environmental footprint. I would also guess that we will be utilizing GenAI in a completely different way than we are doing today.

Can you discuss any recent digital innovations in the oil and gas sector that you find particularly exciting or transformative?
There are several recent digital innovations I could think of both within Aker BP and in the industry, but I want to mention this one in particular: The use of Large Language Models (LLM) in conversational interface with documents and structured data is quite transformative and powerful. Think of that e.g., you can chat with decades of exploration knowledge and data. This opportunity is leading to capturing & summarizing learnings from different data sources & from previous projects. This makes high quality data more accessible without one becoming a data scientist or data engineer. It’s a general pattern that can be applied in many situations not just in exploration but anywhere there is a lot of time spent in collecting and summarising documents.

How do you see digital transformation strategies contributing to sustainability efforts in the oil and gas industry?
How we measure our carbon footprint and focus on low emission (to air and to sea) has evolved tremendously thanks to digital tools on monitoring and tracking.

What specific topics or areas are you most looking forward to exploring or learning about at the 2024 Digital Oil & Gas Summit?
Topics on cyber security (one can’t be successful with digital transformation without a proper cyber security in place), spotlight case studies and session on upskilling.

What advice would you give to young professionals or newcomers in the industry looking to make a significant impact in the realm of digital transformation?
In this transformation journey almost every actor in O&G is investing in fundamentals (data, enterprise architecture and people). There is a need for clean and cheap energy. The digital savvy generation with their command on the technology and focus on sustainability are paramount for the effective energy transition. The younger generation holds the key to a better future and as newcomers you have the opportunity to shape and change the industry.

As we look towards the future, what role do you believe digital evangelist like yourself will play in shaping the direction of the oil and gas industry?
Technological advancement per se is not going to transform our industry. The success of this transition will be determined by the degree to which individuals are empowered to embrace constant change. Then only there will be a fertile ground for growth and innovation. Essentially, we are empowering our organization with better insight to improve our ability to make optimal decisions at different levels – operational, engineering, and executive. Our role therefore will be of a catalyst for the business transformation.

Thank you Prashant for sharing your knowledge and experience on the future of the Oil & Gas industry. We can’t wait to welcome you to the summit in May!

Want to hear more from Prashant? Then get your pass and hear his presentation at the Digital Oil & Gas 2024! Register here

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