In a world that is undeniably digital, the Egyptian oil and gas sector is advancing through the digital transformation program, which comes as the seventh pillar of a modernization project. The program aims to transform the oil and gas sector into one that operates digitally on a wider scope.
For the past 60 years, the Egyptian oil and gas sector has been operating digitally. This digital adaptation can be seen in the technologies that have been used in the oil and gas sector, such as the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, the Distrusted Control Systems (DCS), and the smart and digital instruments used in companies and fields.
Digital transformation objectives & portfolio
The digital transformation portfolio has major pillars that support it in achieving its objective. These pillars include Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, as well as establishing command centers, such as the Executive Command Center (ECC) that is under construction at the new headquarters of the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources (MOP) in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital.
Additionally, other command centers will be established at four main oil and gas holding companies. This will include the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), the Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (ECHEM), and Ganoub El-Wadi Petroleum Holding Co (GANOPE).
Moreover, the digital transformation portfolio works on developing IT infrastructure, which includes network services, composite hardware, software, and resources. This comes as the sector recognizes the software and technologies that are crucial for digital transformation. The digitalization program also includes Data Analytics Software and field development.
When it comes to the objectives of the digital transformation program, one can see that they are convenient and feasible. “We are very honored to be working closely with the Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources on its focused efforts in its Digitization Program which aims at improving the efficiencies, reducing costs and improving the workforce; to develop a resilient oil and gas sector that could cope with the opportunities and challenges on the domestic, regional and global levels,” Hoda Mansour, EMEA South Head of Business Process Intelligence (BPI) at SAP.
The oil and gas sector’s digitalization aims to enhance the sector’s decision-making schemes and provide support when facing a crisis. Moreover, the strategy can help prioritize which projects should be implemented when it comes to the digital transformation of the sector’s companies. It also takes into account the integration between the sector’s various entities, the standardization of designs, and the strategies needed to implement a unified system for managing the petroleum sector’s resources and assets.
The digitalization program further aims to connect EGPC, the holding companies, and subsidiaries of the oil and gas sector together through a unified network. It empowers the sector to study the existing information systems in various companies, which can help in developing and integrating them into an established centralized system. This can be executed by taking into account the integration with the existing industrial control systems in the sector’s various activities while maintaining the confidentiality of information.
Another objective of the ministry’s digitalization program is setting general guidelines for digital transformation of all projects that will be implemented throughout the program to unify and integrate all relevant future projects in the petroleum sector.
Moreover, the program has taken measures to prevent disruption in any company’s activities while the digital reforms are being implemented. Additionally, it aims to cultivate a culture of change through facilitating enhanced professional interaction. In doing so, the sector will be able to accommodate the open exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences by bringing teams working in the industry closer together.
“The Massive digital transformation running at the O&G sector led by the ministry as part of Egypt Strategy 2030 is going to reshape the future of this sector, the impact of this transformation will be starting from investment optimization and accelerated ROI till we reach to productivity, maintenance cost efficiency and asset performance management and definitely will support along the journey the Sustainability and optimize CO2 footprint,” Ahmed Madkour, Vice President Industry at Schneider Electric North East Africa & Levant, told Egypt Oil & Gas.
Digital transformation achievements
In light of the digitalization program’s objectives, the seventh pillar of the modernization project has helped the oil and gas sector achieve notable success, in cooperation with its strategic partners “Schlumberger is proud to be the country’s oil and gas performance partner of choice in its digital transformation journey. The progressive vision of the Ministry of Petroleum digitalization journey was a key enabler for key initiatives such as the Egypt Upstream Gateway [EUG], and the Egypt Production Digital Center [EPDC], both of which went live in a short period of time, with the set goal to equally enhance the understanding of Egypt’s subsurface offering and unlocking the full potential of its assets to meet the energy needs in addition of providing a new platform to attract new foreign investments,” Sherif Bayoumy, Managing Director at Schlumberger Egypt, Sudan & East Mediterranean, told Egypt Oil & Gas.
MOP took a crucial successful step when it launched its first digital upstream portal “Egypt’s Upstream Gateway”, which aims to attract investments to the research and exploration business. This investment attraction falls under the first pillar of the modernization project. In February 2021, “Egypt Upstream Gateway” started the first exploration and production (E&P) bid round on its digital portal. The bid round is set for E&P in 24 blocks.
Additionally, in light of the Digitalization program, Schlumberger and Sensia inaugurated the Egypt Production Digital Center (EPDC) in July. The EPDC is set to digitize the production data coming from the country’s producing assets.
Moreover, the sector established the Egyptian Natural Gas Company (GASCO)’s National Advanced Transmission and Automation control center (NATA center) in 2003. Since its establishment as the main SCADA center in GASCO, it has been helping the company to manage and maintain its national gas network through executing consumption and production plans, issuing operational reports, and carrying out MOCK Drills preparations.
To advance further progress in the digitization program, around 70 digital transformation projects have been initiated that are in line with several aspects of the ministry’s digitalization vision. These projects include ERP projects across 6 public sector refineries. The ERP systems interconnect all processes within an entity. It supports digital transformation, especially when the user implements the ERP based on the best practices in the industry, in terms of system applications and business processes.
The Amerya Petroleum Company and Alexandria Petroleum Company (APC)’s ERPs were planned to go live by the end of 2021-early 2022. Meanwhile, the remaining refineries are set to go live in sequence, starting with the Suez Oil Processing Company (SOPC), the Nasr Petroleum Company (NPC), followed by the Cairo Oil Refining Company (CORC), and the Assiut Oil Refining Company (ASORC).
One of the most notable achievements that have taken place is the ongoing establishment of the panoramic ECC that will be introduced at the ministry’s headquarters in the New Administrative Capital. The ECC is set to be a real-time data visualization and fully integrated center. It will have advanced technologies that support artificial intelligence and big data, in addition to advanced technologies that respond to market dynamics and optimize operational performance. This is all part of the ministry’s strategy to identify new pathways to boost business efficiency and eventually unlock the sector’s value chain potential.
Moreover, the ministry’s vision is to establish in-company digital transformation teams to commence with the digital transformation process. These teams’ responsibilities will involve implementing the necessary reforms within the management process and ensuring that the companies’ activities are aligned with the digital transformation program. Throughout all the digital transformation efforts and achievements the ministry did not neglect cyber security.
Adapting to technology
The Egyptian oil and gas sector has been using digital solutions and advanced technologies across multiple levels and activities.
The MOP is planning to enable the Egyptian Petroleum Pipeline Company (PPC) to have the same SCADA control over crude oil and petroleum products network. GASCO and PPC have signed a cooperation protocol to exchange expertise and share knowledge.
Over the past two years, to cope with the changes imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the Egyptian oil and gas sector has been discussing important issues via video conferences. Moreover, the companies operating in Egypt have been resorting to live webinars to ensure social distancing.
The path to digital transformation has been open for the Egyptian oil and gas sector, which has been using digital tools to progress both in the past and at present. MOP has been supporting all the steps taken by the sector towards the digital transformation and empowering the sector’s companies to adapt to the new digital reality of today’s global market.