In brief

In brief

  • Accenture’s third Digital Refining Survey involved 145 oil refining and gas professionals.
  • Refiners realize some value from digital for key processes, although digital transformations remain complex and hard to scale.
  • Refiners struggle with the last mile of digital transformation due to organizational barriers around people and culture, and IT/OT convergence.

The refining landscape

Competitive pressure on refiners is growing in 2019—margins have generally been weaker, largely due to prolonged periods of maintenance and turnarounds (after years of high utilization), rising feedstock prices, heavy oil supply disruptions, and preparation for International Maritime Organization 2020.

Survey summary

Accenture's 2019 Digital Refining Survey shows that while digital continues to contribute to margin improvements, satisfaction around the impact of digital is static. Refiners continue to deploy digital primarily for improving production yields (digital investment is also largely focused in this area), yet they are finding it hard to scale digital for further improvements. There is evidence that refiners are now realizing that the next step is a stronger focus on culture and change management to enhance digital adoption and scaling in their businesses.

People changes are fundamental to transformation efforts to drive adoption of new technologies.

The survey results:

Five trends depict where refineries are on their digital journey.

Trend 1: Progress seen in digital transformation

Nearly 60% of respondents are investing “more or significantly more” in digital technologies.

Trend 2: Future investments to enable digital benefits

Production planning and execution processes have benefited most from digital. Process and asset optimization and automation are earmarked for future investment.

Trend 3: Resistance to digital adoption is rising

Cost is no longer the top barrier to digital adoption. The next frontier is cultural change.

Trend 4: Digital is proving hard to scale

Fewer refiners are calling themselves “digitally mature.” IT/OT convergence and organizational challenges are limiting speed to maturity.

Trend 5: Digital partnerships enable scale and pace

Though largely satisfied with results from digital investments, most refiners are looking to the wider ecosystem to scale and realize value.

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Tracey Countryman

Senior Managing Director – Industry X, Digital Manufacturing & Operations, Global Lead

Andy Coward

Managing Director, Lead – Digital Plant, Europe

Ashley-Rachelle Horstman

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Energy


2018 digital refining survey
Accenture Energy Tech Vision 2019

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