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Aramco bets on data as NNPC digs deeper into old ways

Aramco bets on data as NNPC digs deeper into old ways

Saudi Aramco, the largest national oil company in the world is aggressively charting its path out of fossil fuel, with the announcement of a $1 billion diversified growth fund tagged ‘Prosperity7’.

On the other hand, its counterpart, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), spent N100 billion ($241million) on refineries in 2021 with little to show for it.

At the ongoing LEAP technology conference organised by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, in Saudi Arabia, Ahmad Al Khowaiter, Aramco’s chief technology officer noted that the company now views itself primarily as a technology company.

The company has so far developed five billion data points generated from its operations across the Kingdom, as well as access to millions of engineering drawings, and inspection and maintenance data most of which it has leveraged to become the world’s lowest emitting company.

Read Also: NNPC fails revenue target, generates N2.99trn

Now Aramco is looking even further into the world of technology ventures across many verticals.

“Through the breadth of the Saudi Aramco ecosystem, its vast resources, and its far-reaching footprint across geographies and sectors, Prosperity7 can prevent unparalleled opportunities for scalability and impact,” Al Khowaiter said. “This potential would be instrumental in creating stronger foundations for success for its portfolio companies.”

The fund which is named after Dammam Well-7, the first oil well to strike commercial oil in Saudi Arabia, also known as the ‘Prosperity Well’ is expected to connect the dots through big ideas, top talents and disruptive technologies from around the world.

The fund will look beyond the energy value chain to target startups in healthcare, education, and blockchain with viable solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

The latest announcement is part of a long-term strategy by Aramco to diversify from oil and explore new economic opportunities. Over the years the company has deepened its footprints in technology, achieving some significant milestones including launching one of the world’s top ten supercomputers.

The supercomputer known as Damman-7 features sophisticated imaging and deep-learning algorithms which allows it to run very detailed 3D earth models, improving Aramco’s ability to discover and recover oil and gas while reducing exploration and development risks.

The company also launched a supercomputer data centre – Damman 7 Centre – with the goal of deepening data digitisation and quality.

Teams of data scientists design and implement complex analytics at Aramco’s 4IR Center (4IRC) in Dhahran. This advanced research and operations hub brings together a suite of digital technologies under one roof.

Every day, the 4IRC receives more than 5 billion data points, generated from Aramco’s operations across the Kingdom, as well as access to millions of engineering drawings, and inspection and maintenance data.

Combining this operational big data with the available computing power, state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence and machine learning tools, the Centre is able to translate the data into actionable insights, which help predict and improve asset performance, safety and reliability.

The case is, however, different for NNPC which is still battling to convince 200 million Nigerians that the future of oil revenue doesn’t come with subsidy. The government recently postponed the removal of subsidy by 18 months to give more time for the education of the populace and address projects that will help ease the cost burden on people.

The total cost of rehabilitation of the refineries in Nigeria comes at $1.559 billion. The last time the refineries used up to 25 percent of their installed capacity was in 2011.

Since then there has been a significant decline in refining activities and in the last three years, 2019, 2020 and 2021 the refineries have produced almost nothing. The refineries have reportedly lost an average of N328 billion every year between 2014 and 2018.

These discussions are now mundane for South Arabia which appears to be in a hurry to innovate and be the leader in the future of energy.

During a fireside chat on Wednesday at the ongoing LEAP technology conference, Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, minister of Energy said hydrocarbon will continue to be used for quite a few decades. However, the country is looking to be the leader in hydrogen investments.

“We are here for all options and all solutions,” he said. “We see ourselves seriously in green hydrogen and as the biggest competitor in that market. We are testing and piloting C02.”