Technology, Innovation & Decarbonisation in the Energy Sectors

Moving the conversation on Digital Twin forward

London UK – 4th April:The third Future Digital Twin conference and expo, organised by Cavendish Group International, gathered together more than 400 oil, gas and energy professionals from 248 organisations around the world on 28 March 2023.

With an incredible line-up of original thought leaders and inspirational innovators, Future Digital Twin 2023  analysed the steps required to incorporate a Digital Twin and ensure best practice throughout the plant lifecycle.

The conference examined a wide range of topics, including how to create a Digital Twin identity, implement a collaborative and productive working culture, and extract value, stimulating debate on innovation, interoperability, democratising AI, ESG, blockchain and delivering net zero.

The conversation has moved on since last year's Future Digital Twin event. As more and more companies begin to recognise the potential of Digital Twin, the technology is tipping from niche applications into becoming management best practice. And when combined with other technologies, including AI, it has an even greater potential, bringing opportunities to move from descriptive and diagnostic use cases to predictive and prescriptive ones enabling faster, smarter decision-making. For many organisations today, the challenge is delivering value at scale.

At this year's event, speakers from bp, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, Repsol, Shell, and TotalEnergies joined oil and energy service companies and technology innovators to provide delegates with insights into real-world operational experience. With a new format, the carefully crafted programme combined Digital Twin Tech Talks and panel sessions with various applications and compelling use cases from software and technology companies.

Adam Soroka, CEO of event organiser Cavendish Group International, said: "It is encouraging to see how oil and energy communities are converging on this topic, and we were incredibly honoured to have such a strong line-up of operators, technology innovators and associations contributing the programme. Digital Twins are becoming critical tools across the asset and operations-intensive oil and gas industry as pressure mounts to prioritise solutions that advance both energy security and sustainability."

Joining Adam Soroka in conversation, Shane McArdle, CEO of Kongsberg Digital, said: "We're at the end of the beginning with Digital Twin. We've learned a lot of lessons over the last couple of years, and today, the conversation is all about scaling. We have the blueprints and roadmap for making this a success… If you haven't started your Digital Twin journey, start! Don't let concerns about data delay deploying a Digital Twin… it's never going to be perfect and can be improved upon. You can start changing hearts and minds now and seeing incremental improvements with what you have. Movement brings clarity."

Sharing Shell’s Enterprise Technology journey,  Monali Dash, Productivity COE Lead, ET & P, said: "Creating a modern, connected and accessible digital ecosystem for up to 140K users from 70 countries has its challenges. The biggest is integrating services – connectivity to productivity, productivity to cloud and cloud to security. Privacy, trust and security are all important. There is a need to connect everyone to everything, but at the end of the day, it must be secure."

Closing the event with Adam Soroka,  Taoufik Ait-Ettajer, E&P Technology Subsurface Manager at Repsol, said: "The Digital Twin conversation has moved on. It's no longer about being a nice-to-have tool but about realising value and unleashing AI potential. Here, honest collaboration will be important – sharing pilot programme success stories and lessons learned. As will educating regulators and legislators for robust ethical and legal frameworks. But the critical key to successfully scaling digital value is people – scaling up the knowledge and skills of the people is critical."


Here's what some of our panellists had to say during Future Digital Twin 2023


On Leadership…

Martin R. Gonzalez, PhD, Connected Worker Team Leader and Digital Twin Product Owner at bp, said: "Leadership is a love for an idea that you want to turn into reality. And I think that effective transformation requires that kind of love in the form of trust and empathy because you want everyone on your team to be engaged, and you want them to feel that they have enough autonomy to work on things that they want to work on. Everyone being committed that way really helps leaders get the desired output."

Lisa Sacco, Business Venture Manager at ExxonMobil, said: "When it comes to change management, change enablement and driving that transformational change, trust in your partners, trust in your people, give them all the space to fail fast and learn – that learning is critical. Pivot and find that value, celebrate and share those learnings so that you can apply them across the organisation."


On Starting…

Steffan Sorenes, Leading Adviser in Plant IT Architecture & Integration at Equinor, said: "Don't forget the users. Users don't care so much about technology; they care about solutions to their problems and pain points. Build the Digital Twin with them, not for them. Think big, start small and learn fast."

Luke Kendall, SVP of Kongsberg Digital, said: "Be specific and purposeful. Focus on high-value use cases and be bold. Hold your company to account when it comes to scaling. Don't be afraid to shut down POCs that are failing."


On Scaling…

Wassim Ghadban, VP, Global Innovation and Digital Engineering at Kent, said: "We need to have an open approach to Digital Twin –  open standards, open data, open source, and open innovation. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, utilise the existing technologies in the market."


Russell Herbert, Industry Principal, Oil, Gas & Energy at AVEVA, said: "To get the real value of the Digital Twin – the real vision of the full lifecycle – a holistic approach is needed, encompassing not just the visualisation of 3D graphics, but equally focusing on the information strategies and the applications that are running in the Digital Twin, and how all they work together."


On Democratising AI…

Ralph Rio, VP of ARC Advisory Group, said: "We should move forward in a programmatic way to implement technology that minimises unplanned downtime and the ramifications that can cascade from that. Not implementing AI is irresponsible."

Walace Oliveira, Digital Transformation Lead at Petrobras, said: "When you have a culture of collaboration and trust, you have democracy."

Haavard Oestensen, VP of Growth Digital Twins at Kongsberg Digital, said: “70% of the gains in digitalisation come through changing the ways we work. It's about driving the data into the hands of the users as part of an industrial work surface, changing the ways that industrial workers are executing and planning their work.”

On Energy Transition…

Mark Enzer, OBE, FREeng, Vice-Chair of the Digital Twin Hub, said: "How do you stop the planet burning? We need to step up and start now. We don't have to solve the whole thing all at once. Each time we develop a Digital Twin for a very clear purpose, it will deliver that purpose. And then, we can connect Digital Twins for a purpose, enabling a useful ecosystem of connected Digital Twins to form. We have to go on the journey together, which means radical collaboration. It's doable, though, and we can do it one purpose at a time."

Miriam Archer, CCUS Digital Manager at SLB, said: "Oil and gas Digital Twin success stories can be applied to the energy transition. There's huge value in using the Digital Twin to drive forward efficiency in CO2 and cost. We are going into uncharted territory. The energy transition is the biggest challenge we've ever faced, and collaboration will be key to achieving net zero. Whatever role you're in, whatever responsibilities you have, I urge you to collaborate with people outside your normal sphere to see how we can drive Digital Twin innovation forward to accelerate the transition as fast as possible."

Hari Ramani, General Manager, Digital Innovation, P&T Technology at Shell, said: "The technology is going to be a massive enabler for the clean energy transition. But we need to have open standards systems in place and industry-wide interoperability."


On Blockchain…

Alexis Pappas, Director and ESG Committee Chair of the Canadian Blockchain Consortium, said: "It's through the convergence of technology, like the intersection of blockchain and AI, IoT and Digital Twins, that will help it develop real business utility. One fascinating use case to show what blockchain looks like at scale is the project between Walmart and DLT labs, which uses smart contracts and blockchain networks to automate processes within its logistics and customer fulfilment departments… and a lot of these translate very much into oil and gas and showcase how the technology benefits from integration with IoT."

Dr. Michael Grieves, Executive Director & Chief Scientist at the Digital Twin Institute, said: "This has to be driven by use cases. You have to understand the use cases, and ESG is a flawed approach. Tracking unknown, highly perceptive metrics for your organisation is going to be very difficult. Blockchain traceability doesn't necessarily benefit oil and gas except for commercial transactions. The information is only going to be as good as the people you trust that are doing it. Do you have that capability?"