In the dynamic landscape of global energy, PETRONAS leads the charge by harnessing cutting-edge technologies.
Leaders of today are learning to be more attuned to how technology can energize their growth strategies and help them accomplish their sustainability initiatives at scale. In pursuit of advancing its sustainability agenda, PETRONAS has continued to reinforce its commitment to contributing toward building a more sustainable future.
By strategically increasing its technology investment by 60% from 2021, PETRONAS has launched numerous projects, generating substantial value exceeding RM10 billion (US$2.1 billion). The company also continues to leverage its diverse arsenal of technological solutions to drive continuous value creation, enhance customer experiences and amplify purposeful impact.
Aadrin Azly, Vice President for PETRONAS Group Technology & Commercialisation, prioritizes understanding the “why” behind technological investments. He highlights a purpose-driven strategy that transcends the conventional role of an energy company.
He says, “Our journey, though ambitious, is navigated with a keen awareness of global complexities. The history of our industry is marked by ever-evolving challenges and volatilities that demand adaptability and strategic agility. We also recognize that technology can address these challenges as well as be a force for good that can drive systemic change, all of which will support PETRONAS’ Net Zero Carbon Emissions 2050 Pathway.”
Scaling Digital for Operational Efficiency
PETRONAS’ transformative journey has resulted in the streamlining of processes and established digital connections across its ecosystem as part of a commitment to continuous improvement.
New technologies and innovations such as generative artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) play a pivotal role, helping to propel sustainable growth and tackle intricate data challenges.
PETRONAS is not merely leveraging AI; its objective is to shape and create AI solutions with a customer-first mindset. Using this approach, digital and AI solutions are integrated across various facets of its operations, spanning sustainability, decision-making, workplace safety and talent development.
To boost the adoption of AI, PETRONAS has invested in its very own Enterprise Data Hub to enhance data accessibility and transparency. Within the organization, this has helped to empower employees with faster access to data. PETRONAS has also established an Artificial Intelligence Centre of Excellence for global collaboration and innovation in AI solutions.
Notably, the award-winning solution, STELLAR, developed in 2020, employs an AI-driven model that captures valuable tacit knowledge from experienced operators and engineers to generate actionable insights and enable real-time response for plant operation optimization.
With machine learning models, PETRONAS uses data to generate insights that achieve project excellence at scale and transform operations. Solutions such as ARIES that uses a suite of ML to optimize plant data has helped PETRONAS achieve approximately RM830 million (US$178.3 million) in value creation.
Prioritizing safety, PETRONAS also utilizes AI in its aspiration to achieve zero incidents by using dynamic algorithms to proactively identify potential hazards and predict accidents. Currently, it is piloting AI-powered robots and virtual-based analytics for inspections.
Advancing Technology for Clean Energy Growth
The evolving energy landscape is ripe with opportunities, prompting diversified exploration and new business ventures that align with changing customer preferences. By spearheading the development and commercialization of innovative technology solutions, PETRONAS is establishing a robust competitive advantage. This extends to various pivotal areas, including specialty chemicals, hydrogen, renewable energy, advanced materials, bio-based value chain and circular economy.
“New frontiers of technology open up every day and as the solutions we have currently in development grow to become commercially viable, we remain confident that we are on the right pathway,” Aadrin says. “Nevertheless, innovation is a team sport, so we are actively seeking collaborations with global and local partners.”
Over the next two decades, as outlined in the National Energy Transition Roadmap and Hydrogen Energy Transition Roadmap, Malaysia will focus on driving clean energy through a whole-of-nation approach, focusing on exploring new energy sources, developing future capabilities and shaping market demand. PETRONAS has been a key player contributing to the roadmaps.
Enabling Technology for Purposeful Impact
PETRONAS’ business-driven research and development (R&D) ensures resilience of its energy portfolio by pioneering solutions while fostering strategic alliances with respected academic institutions across the globe.
One field of focus is advanced materials, which involves the study of materials specifically engineered to have new or enhanced properties for superior targeted performance. Advanced materials can be exploited by ways of engineering to suit many applications. Graphene produced from coke is a waste by-product from the refineries, used to produce multi-use solutions such as versatile coating additive that doubles the lifespan of surface coating.
Strategic partnerships on R&D also further escalate adoption and maturity, and mobilize holistic momentum for sustainability. Partnerships with 30 Malaysian universities and 10 foreign institutions enable PETRONAS to further leverage global expertise in developing technological solutions with speed and optimized cost. The collaborations also enhance the synergy between industry and academia in building a sustainable pipeline of educated and skilled talents.
As PETRONAS continues building on its future-forward vision, with an emphasis on technology investments and commercialization, Aadrin believes that staying competitive through innovation requires adopting an experimental mindset while empowering the company’s workforce to be proactive changemakers.
“While technology sparks change, people are an important part of the equation, so it only makes sense to utilize the brightest minds in their fields who have the skills and knowledge to transform ideas into reality,” he says. “I’ll say it loud and proud—our technologists, engineers, scientists and researchers are rockstars who, instead of the lab being their world, have made the world their lab.”
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