From Molly Kilete, Abuja

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Chief Timipre Sylva, said the time has come for government to investment in digital technology to boost exploration in the oil and gas sector of the economy.

Sylva said that digital technology tools like Drone Technology, analytical and data-driven processes, Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D Virtual Modelling among others are vital requirements that can help improve oil and gas production in the country.

He said the country stand to benefit immensely from digital technology.

The minister made this known while delivering his graduation lecture delivered for participants the National Defence College (NDC) for Course 29, in Abuja.

The minister while noting that the pressure to move with the rapid evolution of technology was increasing by the day, said the oil and gas sector cannot be an exception.

In his lecture titled “Enhancing Digital Technology In The Oil and Gad Sector on Nigeria for National Development”, noted that “the many benefits to cost, planning, efficiency, and quality that digital technology can bring to the oil and gas sector are all too clear”.

“Ultimately, for the oil and gas industry – like all other sectors of society in this day and age – the choice is no longer between embracing or investing in digital technology and not doing so, but actually between investing in digital technology and sinking into oblivion,” he further stated.

According to him, “Under COVID-19, expatriates left for their home countries, and production plummeted. This has accentuated the need for digitalisation, as oil producing countries seek more efficient production techniques,” he said.

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“In this connection, technology has come to the rescue. It is helping countries and companies to crack the issues of efficiency through multi-functional tools, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation; Big Data and Data Analytics; Internet of Things and Electronic Monitoring; and 3D Virtual Modelling and Drone Technology,”

Speaking further, the minister said Nigeria has proven crude oil reserves of 37 billion barrels with production capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day and actual crude oil production of about 1. 5 million barrels daily and natural gas reserves of 206.53 trillion cubic feet; and average production of about 7, 575 million standard cubic feet per day (MMSCFD) noting that with enhanced technology in the oil and gas sector the country can scale up its level of production.

Citing Deloitte’s 2019 Digital Maturity Index, which scored the oil and gas industry lowest on the scale compared to other heavy asset industries, Sylva said “there is need to improve the digital maturity of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, and the world over,” stressing that the “digital technology train has since left the station – you are either on board or you are left behind”.

While stressing the need for a sustained investment in technology by both the government and organisations in the oil and gas industry, sylva said that the continuous investment in the sector is critical for survival in today’s competitive environment.

He said “They must also increase investment in skills development to be able to harness the full potential of technology in the sector,”.

Earlier in his address, the commandant of the NDC, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, said the exponential pace in the advancement of technology globally in the last decade which has been described as the fourth industrial revolution is arguably a critical factor in determining the strength of nations in measuring security and
Sustainable development indices.

He said the theme of the lecture was characterized by lightening fast advancements in technologies such as artificial intelligence, advanced robotic and big analytics among others.

“The fourth industrial revolution is dynamic and in some cases disruptive and redefining possibilities across all areas of human endeavor”.

“This reality portends both positive and ominous prospects with far reaching implications for national development. This underscores the need for diligent interrogation to appreciate the inherent opportunities, risks, challenges and threats”.