The OPEC Secretariat held its second Workshop on Energy and Information Technology on 21 September 2020, featuring lively discussions on the latest developments in areas including blue hydrogen and trends in digitalization.
More than 200 participants representing OPEC Member Countries, industry, government and research institutions participated in the Workshop. The videoconference also focused on topical issues such as robotics, cyber security, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology and how they can drive innovations in OPEC Member Countries and the industry in general.
The event, a follow-up to a two-day workshop held in September 2019, provided a platform to examine timely technological developments with the participation of leading experts. Several speakers pointed to the critical contributions that Information Technology has played in providing stable and secure energy supply during the COVID-19 crisis, and in transforming the way people live and work.
In opening the event, OPEC Secretary General, HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, quoted Bill Gates, who once commented that “innovation is the reason our lives have improved over the last century.”
The Secretary General said, “I would like to expand upon these words of wisdom by noting that the oil industry, from its earliest days in the 19th century, has been a leader in developing and utilizing technologies to the benefit of global development and human progress. In the 21st century, technological innovation, coupled with an experienced and highly-skilled work force, are driving advances in the industry’s operations across the value chain and contribute to its ever-improving environmental performance.”
Moderators of the panels were Dr Adnan A. Shihab-Eldin, Director General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences and formerly Acting Secretary General and Director of Research of OPEC; and Patrick von Pattay, Vice President for Digital Portfolio and Transformation at Wintershall Dea.
In their interventions, panellists noted that blue hydrogen has tremendous potential in the areas of transport, providing a buffering fuel and potentially for heating. Both Japan and Australia provide a potential model for how this technology has evolved and how OPEC can benefit from their valuable expertise, the Secretary General noted.
Another important takeaway, the Secretary General said in his remarks, is the transformative role that innovation and technology can play in meeting the rapid growth in energy demand in the future. Robotics and other innovations, for example, can help improve productivity, maximize efficiency and safety, and drive efficiencies across the value chain.
The OPEC Secretary General also noted that the COVID-19 crisis ushered in a digital era that has brought tremendous changes to ways of working. “Without IT, none of us would be participating in this workshop. Despite social distancing and other measures to contain the pandemic, we have been conducting business as usual thanks to innovations in remote communications and operations,” he said.
“The miracles of technology,” he continued, “allow us to carry on with decades of OPEC tradition in supporting dialogue, cooperation and the exchange of information to the benefit of producers, consumers and the global economy at large.”
The videoconference was part of the OPEC Secretariat’s ongoing research programme for its Member Countries, which includes workshops and technical meetings that act as a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas on some of the energy industry’s most important issues.