NNPC: Innovation through Deployment of Artificial Intelligence by Extracting Knowledge for Operations

Mrs. Betty Ugona, Chief Innovation Officer of NNPC RTI

…Research, technology and innovation to systematically position NNPC across the value chain of the oil and gas business to address identifiable challenges

-By Olufunke Afolami

Globally, there are challenges and impacts on the oil and gas business which has been aggravated by Covid-19 pandemic. These challenges can be summarized as follows; the high cost of operations in oil and gas industry, environmental issues and asset management.

Thus, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) being a national oil company is not exempted from these challenges.

Giving her perspectives and views of the oil and gas industry, Chief Innovation Officer of NNPC RTI, Betty Ugona, explained at the 4th Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS) that the corporation has put strategies in place to address these challenges by remaining responsive and resilience.

She made it known that NNPC top management committee at its meeting held on 16th of March, 2020 approved establishment of research technology and innovation in order to drive purposefully and stay focused in productive research technology and development so as to overcome these challenges.

To remain competitive in the dynamic global energy industry, NNPC as a corporation seeks to position itself as an energy company of globally excellence. To achieve this, it is paramount to have a research and technology outfit dedicated to having a maintenance agility in adapting to the dynamic business environment, she added.  

There are three core aspects of NNPC Research technology innovation. The first is research. The corporation will be using creative systematic and methodology principles of knowledge in order to collect organized and analysed ideas for business growth to sustain development and problem solving.

The second is to drive business efficiency, service quality and performance excellence using advancement in applied sciences, engineering and designing in line with new technology trends.

The third aspect is innovation. Innovation is the core business of NNPC. “Innovation is the new way of doing things in order to capture hidden value or create new ones.”

Ugona disclosed that NNPC has decided to create human centered innovation approach in building solution while emplacing innovative mindsets and culture within the organization to create value, cut cost and improve performance efficient.

“NNPC business philosophies and vision is to harness the power of thoughts creativity and organizational purpose to inspire innovation and value creation. The company’s mission is sustain incremental innovation to drive tangible improvement in performance and efficiency across the value chain and involved in technologies that will support it to maintain competitiveness and organizational agility.”

The Chief Innovation Officer of NNPC said business objectives are to champion productive research, technology development and innovation across the energy value chain while supporting advancement of NNPC vision of becoming an energy company of global excellence.

“A lot of things are happening and the world is changing so fast and until you are very responsive to the changes, quick and prompt to respond to the impact of the changes, you will not be able to survive what is happening to the world today.”

As the challenges are identified and appreciate opportunities associated with the challenges, what can be done in order to fix the challenges? How to get the best fix to transform and how can successes be sustained as they are being introduced and developed. What are the watchwords?

Ugona revealed that NNPC watchword is simple; the corporation sees, evaluates and innovates.

As part of its watchfulness to monitor the industry, NNPC antennae are up to pick technology trends, “what is happening? Are they in the systems or what should be imbibed? Then pick and deployed in order to have competitive advantage. When we pick these ideas we evaluate, analyse and implement for innovation.”

For this to be achieved, NNPC research technology and innovation have systematic areas which have been positioned in such a way that they will be able to tap into the value chain of the oil and gas business and address identifiable challenges.

Ugona maintained that the first thematic area NNPC focuses is automation. One of the major challenges affecting oil and gas business is high cost of operation. Automation is data mining, deploying of artificial intelligence and robotic process. It is also implementing machine learning to extract patterns and knowledge for data to barrel.

NNPC has also decided to set apart a division under its research arm to ensure that automation of all its process are insured and embarked.

On the downstream innovation section, the corporation is critically looking at its infrastructure to identify challenges, what it is not doing right, what the global industry does and what should be implemented in order to have competitive advantage.

In its research department, the corporation is utilizing it for future purpose since the world is tilting towards better and cleaner energy for operation.

NNPC refining and petrochemical division is to ensure that the corporation key into upstream core optimization program, looking critically into the upstream process and identifying challenges. For market research and service innovation, NNPC has established RTI to ensure it takes competitive advantage of competitors and remain afloat.

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