Jordan Blum, editorial director, Hart Energy: We are here at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston. I'm joined by Attilio Pisoni, the senior vice president for strategy and technologies at Baker Hughes. Thank you so much for joining us. I really appreciate it. You were just in the panel talking about how you came to the U.S. 25 years ago, started working on steerable rotary systems. I wanted to get your take on, first, how revolutionary that was and how you've seen the industry evolve now since then, now into the future.

Attilio Pisoni, senior VP for strategy and technologies, Baker Hughes: Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you and the audience that will listen to this interview. I was very lucky when I started my career. I was a mechanical engineer on one of the most exciting, as far as I'm concerned, projects back then. We had the aspiration that it was going to be one of the most revolutionary technologies in the drilling space, and what I'm really proud about, and so all the colleagues in the industry that worked on it is that it unlocked so much value for the industry in terms of operating efficiency, but even more if you consider what unconventional has brought to life in terms of production. How many millions of barrels of oil or gas it has unlocked in the U.S. and throughout the world. So that was my first, if you want, approach to the industry as a young mechanical engineer. I know that it's not just a story related to rotary steerable. Oil and gas and technology in oil and gas has brought so many amazing technological discoveries and advances that have brought so many benefits to humankind overall.

JB: Very good. I know a lot of the focus now for the oilfield services sector in general, and Baker Hughes specifically, is working on reducing carbon footprint and working with operators. Can I get you to just elaborate on some of the innovations and technologies you're most excited about right now?

AP: Yes, as an industry, we have a responsibility to contribute to the energy transition and to the mitigation of a real problem, which is climate change, and at Baker Hughes, we take that very seriously, like the whole industry. We are taking sustainability and making it a part of how we design our products and how we design our solutions. So our products and our solution not only have to perform from a technical and operational point of view, but they need to contribute to reducing the emissions as those tools and those processes are used in the hands of our customer, but also as they're manufactured and as eventually they're going to be retired. In engineering, you need to be able to quantify. So we put a lot of effort in being able to quantify the emissions associated with all the technology that we're producing and we're very good and accurate at doing that now.

And then we've put it in the hands of our engineers so that they can design for sustainability. Now, it becomes much bigger than that because it's about the overall ability of oil and gas and the industry to reduce the amount of emissions associated with extracting the barrel of oil. And then we also have a hand to play in the impact, in terms of emissions, of when that barrel of oil equivalent or gas is used in any industry. And there are things like translating and taking the technology that we have developed oil and gas into other areas, such as geothermal, is a big focus of ours, but also it's a big focus using that technology, adapting it and then using it for things like CCUS [carbon capture, utilization and storage], which really affects and directs in a very effective way the ability to capture and store away and so eliminate some of the downsides of oil and gas. Now, this is not to say that we want oil and gas to be the only energy source. We're also investing in alternative energy sources whether it is hydrogen, whether it's geothermal. And so it's a combination of things that is going to deliver the solution for as far as the energy transition goes.

JB: One of the things we were discussing that's an issue for the industry as a whole is that there's less capital dedicated to developing technology. What are some of the ways that Baker Hughes is filling the gap, essentially?

AP: It's true. If I look at my past, my career in technology and in operations, I see that capital is becoming harder to get by because there are other sectors that are attracting capital. There's closer attention, and rightly so, to quarterly results, et cetera. To me, the key in what we are doing in Baker Hughes is first of all, using the capital that we do have more efficiently and the power that digital has put in our hands in terms of designing more efficiently products, testing them in the virtual world before you're taking them to operation— It's a big lever that we have. The other lever, which I think relates to capital, but also relates to the complexity of the challenges that we have to face. If you think of energy transition, sustainability, optimizing complex systems is the ability and the drive that we have to collaborate with our customers. That collaboration is both from an intellectual point of view, but also from a capital point of view. So by pulling our capital resources together, we can be in a better position to deliver solutions to society. And so that's a big effort that we are undertaking at Baker Hughes, and we see our customers really giving us a positive answer, but frankly I wish we could do even more on that front.

JB: Well, in that same digital vein, there's a lot of focus on analytics and AI. Can I get you to elaborate a bit on how ‘we're not making a gadget’, as you said, it's about integrating everything together into more efficient solutions.

AP: That's very much the case, I believe. When I started as a mechanical engineer, it was about the opportunity that we saw in developing a specific product that could solve a specific problem, issue or opportunity. Now it's much more about integrating the technology that we already have to deliver a comprehensive solution that addresses really a complex system or optimizing a complex set of interfacing and interlocking type of processes and outcomes. So on that front, obviously AI and data analytics, data science have a huge role to play. As the number of inputs, the amount of data that you get is available to you, but at the same time, the human bind on its own cannot cope with that enormity and volume of data. And that's where AI has a huge role to play. Now, the first step that I think as an industry we really have done very well in terms of progress is to be able to bring that data in a common platform that is now usable for people that can develop AI algorithms to extract value from that data. So I think we've done very well. I don't think the industry has seen yet all the power that unleashing these AI or machine learning algorithms on that data is capable of producing, but that's the next phase. At Baker Hughes we're definitely investing in that and obviously the industry as a whole is investing in that.

 JB: That's going to be really fascinating to watch all that unfold. Thank you so much for joining us here at OTC. I really appreciate it. To read and watch more, please visit online at