Offshore Engineer is at the ADIPEC show in Abu Dhabi this week, where we interviewed Ahmad El-Dandachi, Enterprise Channel Lead for Microsoft in the UAE on Microsoft's role in the offshore oil and gas and renewables sectors.
OE: Microsoft is, obviously, mammoth. Can you give an overview of "by numbers" look at Microsoft today, which puts in perspective its activities in the offshore energy sector?
El-Dandachi: "Basically, Microsoft, as you know, has been investing a lot in the energy industry since many years. In the region, obviously, energy is big and the energy industry is going fast as well, especially with the digitization and with the digital transformation happening.
In the region, we created what we call the Energy Core dedicated for this industry, for the offshore industry. This Energy Core is mainly about bringing our partner ecosystem like the Honeywell, Schlumberger, AVEVA, Schneider, ABB, and I can name more, to make sure that we create this partner ecosystem to deliver all the solutions we need to this industry to grow, to drive more operational excellence and, as well, to drive more of the sustainability and new energy, renewables, that everyone today is focusing on.
OE: Digitalization is a hot topic across industries. Can you discuss the specific solutions Microsoft offers in the offshore energy sector?
El-Dandachi: "Absolutely. A few months ago, and especially post-pandemic, Satya Nadella, our CEO, mentioned that we've seen two years of digital transformation in only two months and, to be frank, with all what's happening right now, I think there's a lot of appetite for digitization.
Digital transformation is not only a competitive edge, it's becoming critical now for energy companies to become more resilient, to be able to transform and to drive more of the operational efficiency, and of the operational excellence. So a lot of solutions are actually brought by Microsoft with our partners to help those energy companies to transform digitally and to make sure they really thrive in the new era of renewables and sustainability.
OE: Case studies. Can you point to specific examples with oil majors or operators, which illustrate how Microsoft is specifically, tangibly, driving digital transformation in the offshore space?
El-Dandachi: "We, as Microsoft, came up with what we call the energy industry priority scenarios to help customers to transform, and those are four industry priority scenarios as use cases.
The first one is "operate for the future." So, anything related to health and safety and the energy industry, anything related to drive more of the operational excellence, as I said before, and efficiency. That's one use case that, for example, we're doing today with Petrofac to help Petrofac drive those kind of efficiencies in the UAE and globally as well.
The second use case is around workforce transformation, and just to give you an example with Rexel. For the past two years, we we've been working with Rexel to really help them to [tackle] the skills gap they have to enable their employees to be able to get all the trainings, all the readiness, to be able to drive and to use all these new solutions they have. And that's an amazing opportunity for Rexel and for us as well to accelerate this workforce transformation."
A third use case is about reimagined energy and with BP in the UK we're working with them on how to find the new business models to really reimagine energy and find the right partner ecosystem to drive like smart cities, smart buildings, and make sure that we have this new energy or transition to clean to really accelerate.
OE: What is your outlook for growth in the offshore energy sector, both traditional oil and gas and renewables in the coming five years?
El-Dandachi: "I think this is an industry that we at Microsoft see huge potential. The white space is very big, the opportunities are massive, and this is where we're continuing our investment in that industry.
We're investing in the Energy Core setup in the UAE. We have our Energy Core in our technology center in Dubai. We're having a lot of focus now as well in Abu Dhabi in terms of how bringing new resources and new investments to the region. So I would say, again, the white space we see in the energy industry, specifically when it comes to digitization, when it comes to realization of how digital can accelerate and it can enable, this industry is massive.
OE: What new is being discussed with your clients here at ADIPEC?
El-Dandachi: Metaverse is big, obviously. I mean, we are having a demo just here on how Metaverse can help energy companies in terms of like driving better maintenance, predictive maintenance, prescriptive maintenance for their fields.
Sustainability is another big topic. Obviously, it's everywhere as Microsoft's been committed to sustainability for more than 13 years, helping companies to decarbonize more and more, bringing net carbon initiative to zero. That's our goal as a company, but that's our goal as well to help other companies like in the energy space to drive this net carbon initiative to zero.
So this is the major topic we're bringing today. We're bringing solutions with our partners. As you can see here, we have 12 partners with us on the stand, and all these partners are bringing their solutions with Microsoft to help in those two main areas.