Nearly two-thirds of oil and gas refiners plan to increase their investments in digital technologies over the next three-to-five years, a new study revealed on 23 June. The study, conducted by global professional service company Accenture, said that reducing operational costs appeared most frequently in the top three business priorities that will drive the next digital investments of the refiners.
"Oil and gas refiners in India have been facing significant turbulence in recent times and are, thus, relentless in cutting costs and improving predictability of plant operations," said Sandeep Dutta, Managing Director and Lead, Resources, Accenture in India, in a statement.
While this spending is set to increase, only 19 percent of refiners rated digital as one of their top three priorities for spending on plant efficiency and productivity over the next three years. The most frequently mentioned barrier to digital implementation was the investment required.
"Some of the current and future planned business investment areas that increase this connectivity include more automation, moving operations to the cloud, mobile solutions, AI and robotics," the study said.
An increase in digital investments prompts data security concerns, with companies seeking to offset the greater risk of cyber-attacks that comes with more-connected refinery operations.
"As the number of connected systems and devices that share data in the energy value chain continues to grow, so does the scale and impact of any potential cyberattack risk," added Tracey Countryman, Managing Director, Asset and Operations Services, Accenture.
The study was based on a survey of more than 200 executives at refiners globally.
"Now that computing power is cheaper than ever and Internet of Things solutions are more viable, refiners must move beyond simply piloting new digital technologies and into deployment at scale to see the benefits of digital," added Countryman.