5 Minutes With: Matthias Heilmann of GE Oil & Gas

Matthias Heilmann, chief digital officer, GE Oil & Gas Digital Solutions

Matthias Heilmann serves as the chief digital officer (CDO), overseeing the development of digital products, services and software.
Matthias Heilmann serves as the chief digital officer (CDO), overseeing the development of digital products, services and software.

As a major supplier and service provider, how has GE Oil & Gas been impacted by the decline in oil prices in the last couple of years?

We aren’t distracted by short-term volatility; we have been approaching today’s environment as an opportunity. We have a great track record of coming out of cycles stronger than before, by investing more in technology. Along those lines, we have been using our own digital offerings internally, creating our own Digital Thread. We also continue to believe that constant innovation is key to sustaining our company, and our industry.

How does your offering help companies combat the effects of the low oil price era?

Challenges can be answered through software and we are leveraging our digital expertise to help customers drive efficiency and productivity through data, analytics, and software. The industry is at the forefront of adoption. They have no other choice. It’s a tough industry; currently prices are still in the recovery mode.

Could you talk about a specific digital solution that has helped your customers absorb the effect of low oil prices?

One example is the Predictive Corrosion Management solution that enables customers to continuously monitor corrosion-related risk, minimising the total cost of operations. Today, corrosion is estimated to cost $2.2tn globally, approximately 3.5% of GDP. Because of this threat, industrial organisations spend billions of dollars on manual inspection services. With Predictive Corrosion Management, we are providing the industry with a new way to digitise the inspection process, reliably measuring and proactively addressing corrosion and erosion to improve uptime and reduce cost, through data.

Do you think the global upstream industry has adopted digitalisation because the current oil prices are now the ‘new normal’?

Digital transformation today is about driving profitability and productivity. It impacts your bottom line, and of course our industry now needs to learn to operate at a new price point. Companies can do that by using data-driven insights to make better business decisions, to increase reliability of assets, to mitigate risk, reduce downtime and improve safety of the company’s operations.

Digitalising operations is being perceived as reducing the need for human intervention, leading operators to decide in favour of decreasing the workforce. Please express your opinion on the subject.

We believe that the goal of software, analytics and machine learning is to do the heavy lifting for you. Not to replace people, but rather to free them from repetitive and mundane work in order to empower your talented workforce to do what people can do uniquely well: to be creative in innovating and solving the hardest problems across our industry.


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