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AOG Exhibition 2017: The future is coming fast

This February I had the opportunity to visit the Australian Oil & Gas Exhibition 2017 in Perth. AOG is the largest O&G exhibition in Australia and celebrated its 36th anniversary. Large numbers of industry zones, conferences and networking events and some of the latest innovations and products are exhibited here by global participants.

AOG is an oil and gas event that deals with the core of this industry. I noticed that AOG has considerably shrunk from the booming years in the recent past. Five sectors of the Perth Convention Centre were occupied for conference whereas this year they reduced to three but nonetheless, it drew 300 exhibitors from 25 countries around the world and about 150 speakers. Even then the environment and air breathed of optimism.

My day went by interestingly and quite busy at the AOG. There was much to see, listen and understand. There were some really interesting and informative presentations and panels. Certain zones defined which catered to specific areas and was equally educational and interesting:

Subsea Zone

This zone was supported by the Subsea Energy Australia, Subsea UK and Society for Underwater Technology. It showcased the products and services and technology for the subsea oil & gas industry. It also included the ROV’s, production systems, controls, engineering services, pipelines and offshore vessels etc.

Health Safety and Environment Zone

This zone had products, services and training for the HSE industry at exhibit along with communications technology, protective equipment, spill control, hazardous area products, safety skills, offshore and safety trainings.

Maritime Zone

This was new to AOG 2017 and organized with support of Maritime Industry Australia. It showcased technology, equipment and services for use in the oil and gas industry that included marine services & equipment, offshore support services, corrosion protection and maintenance and repair.

Automation and Instrumentation Control Zone

This zone was supported by the IICA showcasing systems, technology and services for automation, instrumentation and control within the oil and gas industry. It also included measurement tools, sensors, instruments, enclosures and software.

Collaboration Forum

This forum was particular interesting to me. On Wednesday, the big topic was “Technology and Innovation – Are we ready to participate in the 4th industrial revolution?”. Being there one understands how fast the future is coming and how much ahead we have already travelled. The presentations that I most enjoyed were about blockchain and secure contracts, big data analysis, drones scanning surveying O&G fields and process plants (visual, thermal and sensing through e.g. sniffing), cyber security, digital transformation of the industry and additive maintenance to name a few only.

My two cents worth on Digitalisation of the Conservative O&G Industry

Over the course of the past decade I followed closely the developments in the IT related tech sector. On the events I have participated, the focus is shifting more and more to Industry 4.0 respectively IoT related topics. I was delegate to the last years Asia-Pacific Conference of German Businesses in Hong Kong. I was surprised how big the coverage of the Industry 4.0 was. Tom Enders for example spoke about Flying Cars coming out of the Airbus factories in the next 5 years, all interconnected with the smart city of the future. Farmers in China and Japan are tracking their cows with GPS and Analysing their behaviour, etc.

 

Here at the AOG I learned that the Sydney Stock Exchange has already implemented a clearing system to settle contracts between stakeholders. Many O&G end users are at the moment thinking about how to use the blockchain technology to reduce unnecessary costs and time in their daily business with e.g. smart contracts. Drones are not just gimmicks, they conduct important tasks fully automated.

It became clear to me that the future has already started and things will accelerate. Companies who do not make use of big data to improve their services and products will fall behind and will disappear over time. Software Engineers will play an important part of the modern businesses, whether a company produces mechanical parts only or high tech. Predictive maintenance services will become one of the most important users of big data – this will be the killer application on the analytical side. I believe that predictive maintenance will fall under supervised machine learning where humans still play an essential role of the service model. Having said that, we have to be able to trust the underlying data. Hence data quality is becoming very important – not the amount of data, rather the right volume, variety and velocity in gathering and analysing will make the difference.

This sounds all very exciting and truly futuristic, the reality shows that a risk comes with this interconnected world. In October 2016, the world has seen the largest DDoS. A Mirai botnet attack of largely IoT devices with about 1.2 terabits per second. The history has also shown several attacks of e.g. power grids around the world. Hard to imagine if let’s say a process plan is being taken over or affected by an Mirai botnet attack.

On the bottom line it shows that even the very conservative O&G Industry is moving fast to make use of IoT and disruptive technologies like Blockchain. Without having the intention to overemphasise, but this should be a wake up call to all companies and executives out there still not taking this development seriously. Everyone should at least understand what’s happening at the moment, otherwise a surprising future my be waiting for those not being prepared. One of the speakers at the AOG quoted Amara’s Law which I find a good closing line to this article:

We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the Long run.

Tim-Frederik Kohler

(Image source: © AS-Schneider)