The second Future Digital Twin conference and expo, organised by Cavendish Group International, gathered together more than 700 oil, gas and energy professionals from around the globe on 29–30 March 2022.
Building on the success of last year's inaugural Future Digital Twin event, the two-day virtual conference packed together an incredible lineup of industry thought leaders and top-level content to explore how to incorporate a digital twin and ensure best practice throughout the product lifecycle.
The conference examined a wide range of topics, including how to create a digital twin identity, implement a collaborative and productive working culture, extract value, and stimulated debate on ESG, cybersecurity, innovation, and the future of digital twins in oil and gas – an industry in transition.
Delegates heard that we can't get to net zero without digital twins. The oil and gas industry needs to change at pace to maintain energy security while also driving decarbonisation, and the future energy system will require data-driven optimisation, automation, and integration. Following two days of frank discussions, the message for hydrocarbon companies was loud and clear: incorporate a digital twin into your digital strategy or risk being left behind.
An early digital innovator, bp is one company demonstrating that it is possible to go after ambitious transition targets while delivering outstanding results for shareholders. In her opening keynote address, Patricia Rangel, VP of Intelligent Operations Digital, shared valuable insights learned from bp's digital twin journey.
She said: "Agile ways of working and digital technology have played a central role in enabling bp to perform while we transform from an international oil company to an integrated energy company. And they will become even more critical in the future. The results achieved so far have given us the confidence to go after more ambitious targets to accelerate the greening of bp."
Having built its first digital twin in 2017 to improve production and since made great progress with operations and maintenance twins in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, Patricia Rangel revealed that bp's focus is now on accelerating its journey towards comprehensive maintenance operations and inspection twins.
Notably, she underscored that the key enablers to bp's digital success are collaboration and innovative partnerships, modularity in technology and strong data foundations. Integrating these practices to enable innovation at scale was a common theme throughout the event.
For Shane McArdle, Senior Vice President of Digital Energy at Kongsberg Digital – the event's Official Digital Twin Partner – as the energy system moves towards greater automation and flexibility and becomes increasingly complex with vast data sets, simplifying workflows and decision making will be critical.
He sees the digital twin becoming more of an industrial work surface – where you access your data and insights, have a real-time understanding of your operations, and the workflows are digitalised. But digital adoption is complex.
He said: "The onus is on us as a product company to make the technology simple to adopt. Anyone can pick up digital technology, and adoption will grow if it's built with an easy-to-navigate, intuitive interface with a rich, pleasurable experience."
The carefully crafted programme of thought leadership panels and presentations gave delegates insight into real-world operational experiences with speakers from operators, including bp, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, Shell, and TotalEnergies, oil and energy companies and technology innovators. And by bringing together detailed case studies from technology and software providers, Future Digital Twin also set out different types of applications and compelling use cases for digital twin investment in oil and gas and other sectors, including clean energy, urban cities, and life sciences.
Following on from last year's conference, much of the conversation centred on defining a digital twin and standardisation. Interestingly, Dr Michael Grieves from the Digital Twin Institute, the man behind the digital twin concept, said: "I don't think it's important to have word definitions of what a digital twin is; if we can visualise it, we can create a digital twin. Focus on the use cases; you want to trade off bits for atoms wherever you can to do things more effectively, efficiently, and cheaper."
Looking further ahead, delegates heard that interoperability will be vital to creating a system of systems and making them connect. Dr Grieves warned against waiting for standards as they take a long time and are politically driven. He believes a far better approach is coherence through shared ontology and harmonisation.
From the predictive standpoint, if our systems don't predict, they will be relatively useless. On this, Dr Grieves was highly positive. "We're at 54 billion transistors on a chip right now. By 2030, we will have around six trillion on a chip. And by 2040, it will be hundreds of trillions. With AI and Machine Learning, we will have amazing computing capability."
Adam Soroka, Managing Director of Cavendish Group International, said: "It's clear from the open and constructive discussions over the two days that digital twins are gaining momentum, and shifting from a nice-to-have to a must-have technology. We still have a way to go on this journey, but Future Digital Twin has helped remove some of the inertia present in our industry. Digitising daily operations, not just data, is paramount and overcoming trust barriers will still represent a larger issue with technology integration. As we transition to net zero, it will be fascinating to see how the industry evolves before we meet again at Future Digital Twin 2023."