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Flagship digital investment at Abu Dhabi’s Adnoc pays off

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company sees flagship digital project in high demand after proving its value in responding to the Covid-19 crisis

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: CW Middle East: CW Middle East: Facing up to coronavirus

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) is taking advantage of its flagship digital technology project to enable it to operate during the Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown.

Three years ago, Adnoc embarked on building its Panorama Digital Operations Centre, which brings all the information from across the company into one location, which can be accessed by the business.

Described by Adnoc as its “eyes on the ground”, the Panorama Centre has a 50-metre LCD screen with more than 100 dashboards, showing everything the company does. It aggregates real-time information across the group and applies smart analytical models, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to generate operational insights and recommendations.

Panorama is run by the organisation’s digital team, with the different businesses within the Adnoc group signing up as customers if they require services. These customers are units within its operating companies and joint ventures, which process oil and gas.

Adnoc comprises 14 different companies, including organisations involved in upstream oil production and downstream refining. These companies are on a single value chain, but are operated separately with, for example, their own digital teams.

The Covid-19 response, including strict lockdowns, has recently acted as a proof of concept and increased the number of Panorama users within the business.

Adnoc has about 48,000 staff, 70% of them in the field and 30% in head offices. About half of on-site staff are still working as normal, with strict rules in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Meanwhile, more than 90% of its office workers are operating from home.

Abdul Nasser Al Mughairbi, head of digital at Adnoc, said the technology needed to support remote working was already in place through Panorama.

“With Panorama, we already have all the real-time data, including equipment monitoring, production monitoring, and a platform that provides regular reports on changes in the organisation,” he said. “That continues, but now we have more customers because all of a sudden, with people working remotely, these reports become essential for the day-to-day running of the organisation.”

The centre has real-time data for production, HR, sales and financial matters from 64 sites, which can be accessed securely by the business. “Now we are disseminating this information for more people,” said Al Mughairbi.

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Abdul Nasser Al Mughairbi, head of digital, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, is leading digital developments at Abu Dhabi’s state-owned oil giant.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is using blockchain internally, with plans to expand it beyond the group boundaries.

Panorama was harnessed for Adnoc’s Covid-19 response from the beginning of the crisis, to keep complex operations up and running. “We immediately started deploying remote assistance software and applications and we are going forward with this,” said Al Mughairbi. “Due to lockdowns, experts are unable to visit sites. We have to connect these experts with operators, so we deployed this immediately. On top of that, we are doing a lot of extra monitoring, including monitoring social distancing and access using existing cameras.”

The Panorama Digital Operations Centre has already proved a major success, generating over $1bn in business value over the last two years, said Adnoc.

“For us, revenue comes from increased production and product sales,” said Al Mughairbi. An integrated oil and gas company like Adnoc has multiple stages of processing, from drilling to shipping running 24 hours a day, so money can be lost through inefficient supply chains, he added.

“With Panorama, we have been doing lots of simulations and real-time monitoring to optimise this operation and find the best place to process our products,” said Al Mughairbi.

The $1bn announced business value, which was accepted by the finance department, was a mixture of savings on maintenance and spending avoidance. But Al Mughairbi believes the real financial benefit is much higher, although difficult for the finance department to quantify.

“We claimed a lot more, but the finance department would only accept that number,” said Al Mughairbi. “I believe we added a lot more value because, for example, the value of time saved cannot be accounted for.”

The Panorama platform was built on top of existing systems at Adnoc and its cost was only 10% of the claimed $1bn added value.

Al Mughairbi said the demonstrable added value and savings, combined with the Covid-19 pandemic response, boosted the number of Panorama users within the Adnoc group. “When people see the value and how they can save money, they immediately deploy it,” he said.

Adnoc now plans to accelerate its plans for Panorama to prepare for life after Covid-19. “Post-Covid, we don’t think we will return to the way we work today, so digital will become more important,” said Al Mughairbi. “For the next year, we are not sure about international travel, so we have to think about how we connect expertises with our facilities. This has brought forward plans to use digital technology to increase remote activities and there is a management directive to do it.”

Adnoc has committees already exploring options for new ways of working in the future, including shared offices, increased home working, and reducing on-site staff numbers.

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