Sultan Al Jaber, a minister of state in the UAE Cabinet and chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. (Photo courtesy of Adnoc)

Businesses Need to Foster Talent for a Positive Impact and Lasting Value

BY :SULTAN AL JABER

OCTOBER 06, 2019

As we enter what many call the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it is clear that this is an era defined by a transformation, not just of technology, but of opportunity.

Never in human history are so many people being lifted from poverty in such a short amount of time. For the first time in history, half the world's population is now middle class, and by 2030, their number will swell to 5.6 billion – two-thirds of the global population.

While just over half of humanity lives in cities today, that proportion will climb to almost 70 percent over the next 30 years. That is 2.5 billion people moving to urban areas, mostly in Asia and Africa. These migrations from non-consumer to consumer and from rural to urban will drive growing demand for energy that no single source can meet.

It is clear that the oil and gas industry will remain essential to the global energy mix and the basis for a wide range of modern consumer products for many years to come.

In short, as we enter a new age of technology, the world remains reliant on a 160-year-old industry, whose core mission is to responsibly and efficiently stay ahead of tomorrow's energy demand.

At the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) we call this mission "Oil and Gas 4.0." It is an attempt to rethink how our industry adopts and applies technology, connects with nontraditional partners, shows environmental leadership and most importantly, attracts and retains talent.

Earlier this year, we published our "Workforce of the Future" survey, which looked at the views of young STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent around the world regarding future careers.

The key finding revealed that the more STEM-focused young people associate a workplace with technological innovation, the more attractive that workplace is.

In many countries, oil and gas lack that association, but this is a problem of perception, not reality.

Since the first oil well was drilled in 1859, the oil and gas industry has been at the forefront of innovation. From deep-sea drilling to a depth of more than 30,000 feet, to the development of complex polymers that create lightweight composites for more fuel-efficient vehicles, the oil and gas industry has been an inventive force of transformational discovery.

In 2019, we are still making breakthroughs, but we are failing to tell our own innovation story in an exciting and compelling way – and that should be a priority because the biggest risk to our industry is not competition from other energy sources, but competition for talent.

The fact is, the modern oil company is absorbing, embedding and applying cutting-edge technology at every step of the production process.

At Adnoc, for example, we fully embrace technology from oil platforms to trading platforms. We are rolling out the use of predictive analytics to reduce maintenance costs by up to 20 percent, a significant boost to our bottom line.

Our state-of-the-art Panorama digital command center uses artificial intelligence and big data to empower our people to make better, quicker, market-driven decisions.

We are scaling up the application of carbon capture, utilization and storage technology to expand the first and largest CCUS plant in the Middle East region, significantly reducing carbon emissions.

And we are pioneering the use of optical imagery and drone technology to monitor environmental risks, using 10,000 cameras, many with infrared capability, across our operations to help build a fuller picture of our fugitive emissions and maintain our zero-flaring policy.

By relentlessly pursuing innovation at every level, we aim to demonstrate to the next generation of STEM students that our industry is focused on the future, not anchored in the past.

In so doing, we are making Adnoc a destination of choice and an incubator of talent that will build long-term resilience into our company and ensure we continue to provide for growing global energy needs. Ultimately, our goal is to expand our positive impact on the United Arab Emirates' economy, while delivering lasting value for our country, our partners and the wider world.

Sultan Al Jaber is a minister of state in the UAE Cabinet and chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

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