By Christophe Bourdeau,
a Managing Director in
Accenture’s oil and gas practice

THE Australian oil and gas industry is facing disruption on multiple fronts, and with this comes both challenge and opportunity. This disruption is already here, with mounting pressures on exploration, production, sustainability, workforce, global/local supply and demand, and as a result of the ongoing digitisation of the industry.

Amidst these turbulent times, it is key that oil and gas companies do two things. Firstly, they must re-examine their purpose and secondly, re-define the business model. Only then will they be able to understand how they should re-invent themselves in order to channel innovation and scale it successfully, to ensure stability and license to operate in the fast-changing energy economy.

‘Triple Zero’ isn’t just an emergency number – it’s Accenture’s central purpose to guide oil and gas companies through the current industry disruption, comprising Zero Harm, Zero Loss and Zero Waste. Zero Harm prioritises the health and wellbeing of humans and the protection of critical assets including protection against cyberattacks; Zero Loss focuses on improving operational efficiencies; and Zero Waste on the recovery of waste through circular economy and sustainability initiatives.

Within this Triple Zero lens, Accenture also recommends both upstream and downstream operators do three things: re-define their business model; take a ‘human-centric approach’ with its workforce; and embrace emerging technologies.

Through these actions, companies will reconfigure their operations for future agility and hyper-relevance, enabling them to better respond to changing market dynamics and meet stakeholder demands.

Re-defining the business model

As we’ve explored, the energy sector is undergoing a period of ongoing disruption. To survive, traditional oil company operating models must transform with agility and at scale, and new energy companies will soon look very different to what the industry has been used to.

This change means that oil and gas companies will start to rethink their business models from being exploration-led to becoming production efficiency-led, and then soon, demand-led.

These new companies will not be focused solely on profit but a wider purpose, and they will be identified by fundamental efficiencies and a culture driven by collaboration and sustainability. These new companies will be more competitive – and importantly, more profitable.

Digital-First

Emerging digital technologies and the possibilities they will unlock provides real time opportunities for oil and gas companies to transform. These technologies, such as distributed ledger technology/blockchain (DLT); artificial intelligence (AI); extended reality (XR); and quantum computing (known as ‘DARQ’ technologies), are key to unlocking potential when applied holistically.

Accenture recently revealed that by embracing these ‘DARQ’ technologies, oil and gas companies could see a boost in market capitalisation of up to 44 percent.

Hu-Machine

Human-centricity is a must. This means viewing the workforce as the greatest asset, and empowering workers to collaborate to define the workforce of the future, as they co-exist with the power of machines – we call this Hu-Machine.

Becoming an employer of choice for a new generation of talent, with strategies connected to a greater purpose is also key to any business hoping to succeed in the new Australian oil and gas industry.

Companies must also put society and citizens at the heart of their purpose to help sustain their own workforces, attract new talent, and ultimately lead the rotation to a new, more socially responsible energy system. Otherwise they run the risk that their role in this new system will be much smaller or not exist at all.

And so, as energy systems rapidly become re-defined, digitalised and demand-driven, the fundamentals of the industry will change. As Australia’s oil and gas companies understand the value of digital technologies and empower their workforce to pursue more innovative initiatives, it will be impossible for the models of old to succeed.

Rather, businesses will soon have no choice but to play in the new industry – where optimisation for agility and relevance takes precedence, the workforce is the greatest asset, and new technologies are embraced, encouraged and enmeshed in working practices. By doing this, the Australian industry will then only be able to win.