OMV CIO offers insight on leveraging disruptive technologies in oil and gas industry

OMV CIO offers insight on leveraging disruptive technologies in oil and gas industry

OMV CIO offers insight on leveraging disruptive technologies in oil and gas industry

/ News & Interviews / Thursday, 23 May 2019 07:48

OMV, Austria’s largest industrial company, has been quick to come to grips with the prospect of digital transformation. The Vienna-based international integrated oil and gas company wants to become a “digital leader” in the industry and has been working towards developing a variety of programs and initiatives to leverage the growth opportunities presented by disruptive technologies.

The company recently signed two MoUs with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) in an effort to seek out new opportunities for potential collaborations in the petrochemical sector to assess the feasibility of a scalable ReOil plant in the UAE. OMV along with its stake in the two major oil fields in Abu Dhabi, have established a strong, integrated position within the country which spans along the value chain from upstream production to refining, petrochemicals and trading.

Energy Review secured an interview with OMV’s CIO, Jan Leitermann to discuss the latest trends and challenges facing the oil and gas industry with the rise of disruptive technologies. Leitermann is a specialist in group-wide management of information security for IT & OT, infrastructure development and services, as well as group-wide applications.


Regarding the 2 MoUs OMV recently signed with ADNOC, could you tell us a little more about your progress with that and how they fit into the theme of ‘digital transformation’?

The exchange of knowledge and experience in petrochemical operations as well as refinery-petrochemical integration and optimization is linked to OMV´s digitalization initiatives.

We are essentially looking into potential opportunities for cooperation in the area of OMV’s patented ReOil® process. This innovative process converts used plastics into synthetic crude, which can then be used to produce fuels or feedstock for petrochemical plants, thereby making a significant contribution to a sustainable future. The focus of this technical and chemical pilot project is on creating a circular economy and not on the application of digitization, although digitization can of course help bring ReOil® to commercial maturity.

The second agreement aims to focus more on the petrochemical sector, including the evaluation of new opportunities in petrochemical projects as a potential extension to the existing partnerships, as well as the exchange of knowledge and experience in petrochemical operations and refinery-petrochemical integration and optimization. The two companies will also assess opportunities for petrochemicals marketing support.


What other digital transformation initiatives does OMV currently have in place?

With a broad digital initiative, OMV aims to join the ranks of digital leaders. OMV’s digital journey is driven by synergetic and orchestrated initiatives across the entire company. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 will change the way we run our business, unlocking opportunities along our entire value chain – in oil and gas exploration, refining, sales, and in administrative processes like finance and human resource management.

From intelligent drill heads at depths of thousands of meters to the virtual imaging of all refinery processes through to the implementation of robotics and process automation in the course of Finance 4.0, there is enormous potential for us to leverage. The 2018 approved digital journey of OMV will rise to the premier class. The DigitUP initiative harbors five lighthouse projects and more than 74 individual projects that will be implemented in upstream.

With the "Digital Office of the Future", all relevant data and documents can be retrieved worldwide in real time, with just one click. With the “Real-time Digital Oilfield”, we can automate and digitalize processes using sensor technology and artificial intelligence. The digital scheduling tool eTOP, downstream oil, has solved the complex problem of turnaround management intuitively and efficiently in every refinery.

Also, thanks to “autoTRADER”, downstream gas can use its advanced 24/7 machine learning algorithms to execute automated trading strategies in the European gas market. These are just a few examples among many others.

OMV is investing more than 500 million euros in dedicated initiatives and projects to become a digital leader in its field.


How will digital transformation play a role in sustainability?

OMV´s digital journey and digital transformation are integral to the company’s sustainability strategy.

Our ambition is to become a digital leader in core areas by adopting the latest digital technologies. Our goal is to optimize our operations to increase their efficiency while continuing to ensure our responsibility for Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE).

OMV´s digital transformation is much more than applying and scaling technology – it is about people and culture. Creating a digital mindset and redesigning the talent landscape are an integral part of OMV’s Digital Journey alongside the integration of technology partners, universities and startups.


What advice would you give to companies within the industry that are only just beginning their digital transformation journey?

As an international company with a comprehensive growth strategy, we need to move ahead and become a digital leader in core areas. The challenge for us as for many other companies is that the divisions and corporates are starting from different positions, considering this is one key success factor and the reason why the divisions are driving their digitalization entirely based on their specific needs and requirements. Nonetheless, a common denominator is essential – a joint strategy and guide for the change happening across the group.

It is referred to as our “Digital Journey,” and it consists of three building blocks: “Digitalize”, which is the business case driven portfolio of divisional projects; “Act”, which is the personal and culture transformation part; and “Enable”, which provides the solid foundation architecture that enables robust scaling and airtight information security.

Overall, do not forget the people!

Maybe 30% of the challenge is setting up systems and tools. Most importantly, next to the introduction of new technologies, people are the biggest success factor. Building general awareness, developing deep digital skills and selective in-depth capabilities like agile methodologies throughout the organization are a priority. Carefully looking at the company’s culture and deciding what elements to adapt come next. The key factor is certainly leadership with clear and consistent key messages and actions.


What will be the major digital oil and gas trends over the next few years?

Some of the major trends in oil and gas are, among others, Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics in general and Internet of Things (IoT), Digital Twins and cybersecurity. Any industry and company has to find its own way to leverage digital technologies while matching the business strategy, digital maturity of their business as well as the industry trends.

OMV´s digital journey is built on specific digital roadmaps for upstream, downstream and corporate, underpinned by a common digital core and investments in the firm’s culture and people.

Our portfolio of high impact initiatives is in the area of advanced analytic thought improved seismic interpretation with the state-of the-art 3D Visualization Center which opened in 2017.

We use predictive retail analytics based on point of sales data and process digitization with the electronic turnaround optimization platform as well as central recording and monitoring of drilling sites all over the world through OMV’s drilling cockpit. Additionally, we are automating and optimizing processes throughout the entire Group as well as leveraging AI to promote a culture of data-driven insight, having digital twins and using IoT by establishing a GeoCloud enabling access to tools and data anytime and anywhere.

With the implementation of SAP S/4 HANA, OMV´s cybersecurity program, hybrid integration and data management platform, we built a strong digital core.


When it comes to data, what do you think are the best strategies in terms of data management?

Creating a common, group-wide information architecture which enables analytics use cases across multiple organizational units by following a common data and governance model on a unified platform is key. This helps to break down data silos and to put cross-functional data into context.

In addition, it is important to develop data science skills and to foster an understanding for the value of data in the business functions themselves, as they know their data and its analytical potential best.


In your opinion, what would you say are the biggest digital or data challenges facing the oil and gas industry at the moment, and how do you see the industry coping with these challenges?

The biggest challenge is to connect to all legacy data collection systems and local databases and get rid of the multitude of spreadsheets and spreadsheet consolidation cascades. There is so much value hidden in our existing data. First of all, we want to increase speed and efficiency by eliminating data collection and consolidation processes, gaining valuable insights and eliminating losses by sharing data across dashboards and creating value through advanced analytics and forecasting.


Since the oil and gas industry can be quite secretive and somewhat competitive, do you think cybersecurity will become an issue, and how does OMV plan to deal with it?

With increasing digitalization and the rise of interconnectivity of systems, cyberattacks are a significant problem worldwide and across industries.

We as OMV are aware that as an energy provider, our company is a potential target for cybercriminals. Therefore, we are taking steps to ensure that we are prepared to face ever-evolving threats. In this context, the group’s wide Information Security 4.0 Program was launched to ensure information security in IT and OT is a priority along our company’s digital transformation journey.


What are OMV’s goals for 2019?

Under OMV’s strategy for 2025, the Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific regions are two of the five key regions for OMV to focus on and we intend to serve international markets from its Abu Dhabi base while increasing production in this abundant region.

OMV's experience as a truly integrated business provides an ideal basis for sustainable growth. In 2018, OMV started to build a substantial upstream position in Abu Dhabi by acquiring a 20% stake in two oil field concessions (SARB and Umm Lulu) from our partner ADNOC.

At the beginning of 2019, we signed an agreement in Abu Dhabi to buy a 15% stake in ADNOC Refining. In fact, this was the first time OMV expanded its refining business beyond Europe. ADNOC Refining owns and operates a refinery complex with a capacity of more than nine hundred thousand barrels a day. So, OMV becomes a strategic partner in the fourth largest refinery in the world, part of the Ruwais mega-site, which is integrated into petrochemicals. This acquisition will increase OMV’s refining capacity by 40 % immediately after closing.

In addition, OMV and ADNOC have agreed to create a trading joint venture to market export volumes to attractive markets.

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