NIS at Kopaonik Business Forum

March 6, 2019

More than 1.000 participants attended the Forum this year; among them, Ana Brnabić Serbia’s Prime Minister, Serbian Government ministers, numerous businesspersons, economic experts, as well as numerous media representatives. As part of the Kopaonik Business Forum NIS has staged a panel discussion entitled “Energy Industry And Digitalisation: Challenges And Opportunities”. Our company CEO, who moderated it, was joined by Miloš Milisavljević, CEO, Strawberry Energy, Tanja Kuzman, manager for start-up and corporate innovations PwC Serbia and Nebojša Đurđević, CEO, Digital Serbia Initiative. The panel looked into challenges, which the fourth industrial revolution poses to the energy industry, as well as the digitalisation process. The panellists unanimously considered digitalisation as a game changer in the current market affecting consumers’ habits, making it a process bringing about numerous challenges, as well as opportunities for modern companies. Speaking at this panel, Kirill Tyurdenev, NIS CEO, pointed out his company’s awareness of an impact digitalisation has on energy sector, which compelled NIS to introduce digital transformation across the board. “We have identified 60 initiatives in our entire company, more than 10 out of them already being put into practice as specific projects, in all business areas. Some of them are related to crude oil and gas exploration and extraction, others involve crude oil refining, and, of course, there are projects intended for end consumers“, Tyurdenev said. He made the point of emphasizing that digitalisation is a mere “tip of the iceberg”, which means a great deal of corporate processes require changes both within the company and beyond it, whereby digital transformation instils changes within the entire corporate culture and system of values. “At the end of the day, everything comes down to people and right values. You need people fully aware of the evolving processes, people skilful enough to make use of novel technologies“, said Turdenev. In his view, a positive example is the Scientific – technical centre in NIS employing a great deal of young experts. This centre greatly facilitates both NIS and its parent company Gazprom Neft in exploration and extraction of crude oil and gas and their subsequent refining. It is pivotal for processing huge quantities of data concerning this realm. It strives to become a household entity on the global market. Oil processing industry, in his words, is conservative and by its nature is not so quick in embracing digital transformation as other industries finding it much easier to implement it, such as telecommunications companies, media and banking. “Nevertheless, digitalisation is reality and everyone in our industry are heading that way. We in NIS already enjoy some fruits of that process, but we are only at the beginning of the road“, Tyurdenev said. Miloš Milisavljević, Founder and CEO, Strawberry Energy, described digitalisation as a “great power that cannot be ignored“, which means that even traditional companies will be compelled to embrace the this process vigorously if they want to remain competitive. Milisavljević has pointed out that a great deal of start-up companies strengthen competition with their innovative solutions and appealed to major companies to cooperate more closely with start-up community. “A great idea has been around, specifically Serbia ought to endorse a piece of legislation providing tax breaks for companies and individuals investing in start-ups. Sinergy of major companies and start-up community is an opportunity for Serbia in digitalisation era“, said Milisavljević. Tanja Kuzman, manager for start-up and corporate innovations at “PricewaterhouseCoopers”, said at the panel discussion moderated by the NIS Company that we live in a time of a “constant change”. She said that digitalisation makes life easier for ordinary people; however, the young are not happy only with that, hence they seek improvement of global social conditions, so they make up their mind to buy products based on their perception of the producing company and its contribution to socially responsible processes. In her words, digitalisation is a sweeping process, so major companies need to be flexible and should not fear to fail in individual projects for the sake of preserving their competitiveness. Tanja Kuzman also mentioned that education system ought to keep abreast of the times. “The companies’ executives’ greatest concern is lack of staff skilful enough to embrace the impact of koji novel technologies“, she said and pointed out that Serbia’s education system has undergone major changes in recent years. Nebojša Đurđević, CEO, Digital Serbia Initiative opined that Serbia ought to invest much more in digital technologies and their application in all industries, to tap into opportunities provided by digitalisation process. According to him, Serbia has exquisite experts and products in the realm of IT technologies. Nevertheless, there is a persistent problem of making these products and integral parts of other industries. In other words, those involved in these industries fail to see opportunities, which digitalisation could bring to their operations. Đurđević gave credit to Serbia’s education system, specifically to primary schools introducing the basics of programming as a compulsory course as of the fifth grade. By the same token, he said, our country’s legislation ought to keep abreast of the times and become driving force for further development of novel technologies and start-up community. “By investing in innovation we may bring about change into the market situation. There is no Status Quo; there are only winners and losers. Some companies tap into digitalisation process and create added value and emerge as global players, while others become marginalised. It is essential for companies in Serbia to understand that sooner rather than later“, said Đurđević. Over the course of the Kopaonik Business Forum NIS CEO also took part in the panel discussion entitled “Providing Investment for Sustainable Development”, moderated by Zoran Drakulić, president of the “Privrednik” Local Businessmen Association. Tyurdenev made the point during the discussion that since 2009, when Gazprom Neft became the majority shareholder, almost three billion euros have been invested into NIS development. He spoke of key development projects NIS intends to deliver in the coming period, another 1.5 billion euros to be invested by the company before 2025. He reiterated that in 2018 alone NIS invested more than 300 million euros, lion share being allocated for exploration and production of crude oil and gas and the “Bottom-of-the-Barrel” project, i.e. modernisation of the Pančevo Refinery. Among pivotal projects, which NIS jointly delivers with its partners Tyurdenev mentioned the construction of the CCPP Pančevo, being funded with 170 to 180 million euros and Plandište Wind Farm, an investment worth between 140 and 150 million euros. NIS CEO was joined in this panel by Blaž Brodnjak, NLB bank representative, Žužana Hargitai, EBRD representative, Jelena Pavlović, the chairwoman of AmCham Serbia and Dragan Mikerević, professor at the University in Banjaluka.