Meet the Speaker
Pete Kwiatkowski, Director, APAC, Asset Performance Networks
Published in 2019
The WRA sat down with Pete Kwiatkowski, Director Asia Pacific at AP-Networks. Pete is responsible for the development and growth of the company’s presence in the Asia Pacific region.Sharing his years of industry experience we discussed challenges facing the Petrochemical industry, achieving operational safety and efficiency, digitalization and AI which will shape the industry in the coming decades.
What is the biggest challenge faced by the refining and petrochemical industry today?
At AP-Networks, we evaluate more than 200 plant turnarounds every year. Industry performance for high complexity turnarounds has been especially poor with very few shutdowns meeting their planned goals. One of the biggest challenges faced by the refining and petrochemical industry today is to carry out adequate and timely planning and preparation work prior to a plant shutdown in order to achieve realistic business objectives.
Please share your safety tip for 2019 – how can operators achieve higher safety and efficiency?
Turnarounds are major events involving thousands of workers in a compressed time frame. As such, they are disruptive, complex, and potentially more hazardous than ordinary, everyday plant operations. Along with the complexity of most turnarounds is the pressure to complete them in a timely manner.
One of the keys to safe and successful turnarounds is the involvement of safety personnel from the early stages of turnaround, from planning to scheduling to completion, using a ‘one-team’ approach from contractor & sub-contractor work forces.
What does the subject of digital transformation and IIoT mean to you?
The new rule for the future is going to be, “Anything that can be connected, will be connected.” To me, digital transformation and IIoT is about changing the way industrial companies operate from their day-to-day operations. It brings together new ways to how machine learning, advanced analytics and people at work. It will allow the network of various industrial devices connected by communications technologies that results in systems that can monitor, collect, exchange, analyze, and deliver valuable new insights like never before. These insights can then help drive smarter, faster business decisions for industrial companies.
Please highlight why you think there is a need for a digitalization and transformation roadmap in downstream oil and gas
Downstream oil and gas industry is one of the most asset-intensive sectors in the economy and I believe
that it can hugely benefit from digital transformation and IIoT. Digitalization will create lots of useful
data which will give companies visibility over their operations. Coupled with IIOT, operators are able to
monitor asset performance and investigate accidents remotely and safely. In other words, companies
will have the ability to identify safety and performance issues that need to be fixed before they happen
and at the same time maximize their production.
What’s the greatest impact IoT, data analytics and AI will have on the industry? What lies ahead of operators and how will they adapt?
By combining machine learning, digital transformation and IoT, they will drive unprecedented levels of
efficiency, productivity, and performance. I believe all the Industries embracing digital transformation
and IIoT will experience transformative operational and financial benefits.
However there still appears to be a lack of confidence among senior oil and gas executives about how
to define and execute their digital vision. Operators need to adapt by addressing the organizational
challenges that will arise when adopting a more ambitious digital strategy.
How do you see the role of the Industrial Internet of Things in refining, petrochemicals, & chemicals?
In the refining, petrochemicals, & chemicals Industry, IIOT could be used to monitor things like pipe
thickness, flow rate, pipe pressure, and more. Traditionally, these measurements are typically logged by
hand. But logging this amount of information by hand is a time-consuming, prone to human errors and
fairly costly for the company.
What are the key benefits and opportunities of using IIoT solutions in downstream operations?
There are many key benefits and opportunities of using IIoT solutions in downstream operations. For
example, IIoT solutions offer downstream operators the ability to know when its equipment, pipes, and
tanks are working improperly or soon due for maintenance.This allows them to fix the equipment before they break, which could save millions in repair costs,regulatory fees and fines, and restitution to any workers injured during a malfunction. At the same time,
the IIoT solution would also save the refinery money on a long run by limiting the personnel needed to
manually monitor the plant, or the amount of equipment that requires wired communications.
Are there any tips or guidelines companies should follow to make the transition to automation easier and to avoid mistakes?
Cybersecurity is a big issue when it comes to IIoT. With billions of devices being being widely connected,
it leaves vulnerabilities for hackers to take advantage of. The IIoT also opens up companies all over the
world to more security threats. Then we have the issue of privacy and data sharing. Companies need to
ensure that this is being looked at properly to protect them against cyber attack.Another issue that many companies specifically are going to be faced with is around the massive amounts of data that all of these devices are going to produce. Companies need to figure out a way to store, track, analyze and make sense of the vast amounts of data that will be generated.
Please share your views on IMO2020 and impact on refining
I believe IMO 2020, could pose a major disruption to the markets and business practices of oil refiners,
shipping companies, and other stakeholders. The extend of disruption depends on several factors,
including the speed at which refiners can produce compliant fuel and the specific strategies that
shippers employ to meet the challenge. The implementation of IMO 2020 will see a significant increase
in demand for low sulphur distillates and a surplus of high sulphur fuel oil.
How does this impact the refiners? Refiners with high distillate and low sulphur fuel oil yields will benefit
most from the expected margin growth in these products, driven by shippers switching fuel intake to
comply with the new IMO 2020 regulation.
What are the main areas of technological investments in oil and gas?
I believe companies are investing into solutions to slim down the cost-per-barrel, aid recovery rates and
reduce non-productive time. I believe digitalization and IIOT has the potential to significantly improve
efficiency and allow these companies to be profitable even at low oil price.
What are the latest technology adoptions by downstream operators in Asia? Are there any success stories that other operators can learn from?
We have seen a number of oil and gas companies already embracing digitalization to improve the
overall plant profitability. On a first hand account, we have operators in Asia pacific who uses our
proprietary suite of Turnaround Management Tools to manage their Turnaround planning and
preparation efforts. This allows the timely completion of Turnaround deliverables and improves overall
planning effectiveness, which resulted in a safe, event-free, predictable, and competitive turnaround
Simply put, operators need to carry out adequate and timely planning and preparation work prior to a
To what extent will Artificial Intelligence replace humans working in oil and gas?
I believe Artificial Intelligence will not spell the end of human interaction in the oil and gas industry as
we still need human for non-repetitive jobs. Having AI will create new jobs, for example, we still need
human interactions in jobs such as quality assurance or training and maintenance of the AI system, both
for on field work and off field work (personnel in control centers monitoring both the machines and
At the same time, there will be other roles in relation to big data such as experts in data performance
management and digital specialists.
What is the current state of cybersecurity preparedness across refining, petrochemicals and chemicals and how is the cybersecurity market set to evolve?
Cybersecurity is a big concern with digitalization and IIoT. With billions of devices being widely
connected, it leaves vulnerabilities for hackers to take advantage of. Therefore I believe the global cyber
security market will grow significantly, driven by factors such as increasing cyber security threats,
increasing internet penetration, and increasing adoption of IoT solutions across different industries.
What impact does Big Data have on operational efficiency and how is Big Data changing the industry?
Big Data and IIOT has a big impact on refining capability. For example, it greater insight and extra data
about the production flow (such as pressure, temperature etc) which will allow the refinery to
understand the plant better and allowing them to run at higher capacity, thus increasing its operational
I believe Big Data will change the oil and gas industry significantly. Companies will have more data to
assist them to make strategic decisions faster and that will help them find and produce more
hydrocarbons, at lower costs and more environmentally friendly.
Please elaborate your thoughts on EVs and impact on refining – is it the end of oil?
Electric cars will significantly change the transportation landscape in the coming decades, but the
transformation will be gradual and poses no “clear and present” danger to global oil demand through
There is also no doubt that the gasoline and diesel supply-demand balance will be affected. We will see
a relative excess of gasoline in the demand mix, with part of this finding a market as naphtha. I also see
new refining capacity additions coming in the form of “oil to chemicals”, limiting production in the light
vehicles segment. For the rest of refinery products, I do not expect major challenges due to greater EV.
However, cars alone are not the driver of oil demand growth. Other drivers of oil demand includes
trucks, the petrochemical industry, and planes, As such it will not be the end of fossil fuel.
What will the future workforce look like in the digital age?
I believe the future workforce in digital age will be more digital knowledge driven that will see
employees interacting more with machines as they would with a fellow co-worker.
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