Interview: Nouf Al Abdul Razzaq

What incentives exist for international oil companies to develop innovative and advanced technologies in the upstream segment?

NOUF AL ABDUL RAZZAQ: In the upstream segment, we focus technology on exploration, deepwater, managing giant fields and gas value chains.

It is in these areas where technology can enable competitive advantages and deliver the most value for resource holders and shareholders, as well as help meet the world’s energy needs. Technology can ensure the most efficient recovery is delivered through adaptive and integrated solutions.

For example, seismic imaging technologies enable companies to find more oil and gas, and enhanced oil recovery technologies help extract more oil from existing fields. Real-time data, meanwhile, helps to enhance safety, reliability and efficiency across operations. More fundamentally, technology supports our number-one priority, which is safety. Corrosion management and advancements in detection and inspection, as well as sensors, data analytics, advisory systems and robotics, all work to support this goal.

Looking beyond the Middle East, the world is growing rapidly, and this growth requires energy. However, we recognise that we must produce and deliver that energy with fewer emissions. We need to be part of the solution by improving the efficiency of our operations, moving portfolios to lower-carbon options and investing in energy development. Examples include improving sizeable wind and sugar cane ethanol businesses, and increasing the renewable content in downstream products.

How can technology aid Kuwait as it looks to diversify its oil production?

AL ABDUL RAZZAQ: Advances in drilling technologies and know-how have transformed the energy industry. This has been seen in the shale revolution in the US, and as we have shown with Khazzan in Oman, these techniques and technologies can be transferred elsewhere to unlock previously inaccessible resources. In Kuwait, the integration of drilling technology, people and process can increase barrels per well and recovery rates while reducing unit cost.

International and national oil companies can also support diversification away from pure upstream activities by investing in the downstream sector, through refineries and petrochemicals. Several Middle Eastern countries are investing heavily in this area, and we see that here in Kuwait, with the Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Company.

In an increasingly competitive world, technology will remain important for our whole industry, including Kuwait, to maintain a clear focus on efficiency, driving cost and capital discipline. Indeed, applying technology and innovation competitively while deepening long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between international and national oil companies is essential to secure growth.

What are some key advantages of international mergers and joint ventures in terms of downstream developments?

AL ABDUL RAZZAQ: The main advantages stem from partnerships, and these can take on many forms, beyond mergers and joint ventures. In the oil and gas industry, we need to find ways to do more with less, while consistently delivering safe and reliable operations at lower costs.

In this regard, one key advantage that partnerships can bring is efficiency. The greatest value comes from relationships that look towards the long term, where value is shared fairly over time, and each partner brings an equal share to the table.

Much can be done to transfer knowledge between the upstream and downstream segments, and applying previous experience in this regard is an important role international oil companies can and should play.