ADIPEC 2017 show interview: Schneider Electric

Chris Dartnell of Schneider Electric reveals how the combined entity is set to take the energy market by storm.

Chris Dartnell, president,  oil and gas business, Schneider Electric.
Chris Dartnell, president, oil and gas business, Schneider Electric.

Chris Dartnell of Schneider Electric reveals how the combined entity is set to take the energy market by storm.

How was the idea of acquiring AVEVA conceived, and what was the rationale behind the decision?

Schneider Electric has transformed over the last 10 years from being an electric services provider into a software and automation solutions company. There’s been a number of acquisitions that Schneider has made; AVEVA is part of that development. AVEVA, we think, makes us one of the largest industrial software companies in the global oil and gas industry, which accounts for a huge piece of our digital offering.

We have an overall approach to digital called EcoStruxure, which is about how we connect the plants to analytics [tools] in order to help the operator run the plant better. What AVEVA brings to that is a deep knowledge of assets.

What was that thought process behind acquiring AVEVA, as opposed to other targets that may have been in the market?

The starting point [of the acquisition process] is to understand what we are going to bring to the market. In this case, it was going to be a connected digital strategy. Then, we asked, ‘what do we need to complete that process?’ Some things are better built organically, and others you have to add through acquisitions. You have to look at the fit of the company to the culture. AVEVA gives us a very compatible culture to our current software business. What’s interesting about the AVEVA merger is that we are creating a large software company, based in the UK, which will bring together the software portfolios of AVEVA and Schneider Electric. The combined company is estimated to generate GBP 500mn to GBP 600mn a year in revenues.

How useful will the acquisition of AVEVA be in catering to onshore developments here in the Middle East?

We are very big in the whole [upstream] spectrum, excluding perhaps drilling. It does depend on the region. Today, we are doing projects relating to wellheads instrumentation and gathering. We also have a very nice partnership with Halliburton around digitalisation, regarding managing reserves, wells, and operations. The Middle East is a huge business area for us, and there is no one size that fits all. Of course, here, we need the right partners to do business with.

What is your opinion of the standard of digitalisation in the regional oil and gas industry?

I think it is good. The Middle East has a nice openness to look to the next thing. I think the level of digital adoption is as good as, or better than, most other regions in the world. Since digitalisation is emerging – which makes it exciting – players are going out searching for the best. With regional operators, we are in discussions about digitising their assets. It is bringing about a very compelling change.

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