The Business Year

Chris Dartnell

UAE, UAE, ABU DHABI - Energy & Mining

EUR25 Billion Annual Revenue

President, Oil, Gas, and Petrochemicals, Schneider Electric


Chris Dartnell is the President of the Oil, Gas, and Petrochemicals business for Schneider Electric, which is Schneider Electric’s second largest global business segment. The role drives the strategy, overall technology direction and customer engagement for Schneider Electric with the global Oil & Gas NOC’s, IOC’s, EPC’s and other partners. He has been working in the Oil & Gas sector for 30 years and has worked in over 60 countries. He joined Schneider Electric in 2014. Most of his career has been spent working in automation and software, where he has led teams across a number of senior roles in sales, marketing, and general management (predominantly with Honeywell Process Solutions) including General Management leadership for Southern Europe, Africa, China, India, and Brazil. He started his career in the UK in oil refining as a Process Control Engineer for Mobil Oil at the Coryton refinery. He has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Kent in Chemical Automation Engineering, and an MBA Diploma from the Edinburgh Business School of Heriot-Watt University. He is married with two children and lives in the London area.

“The world needs 50% more energy, but that energy needs to be three times as efficient in the reduction of greenhouse gases.“

What solutions are you creating for energy companies, and in what core areas of operation does this have the most significant impact?

Schneider Electric is a global energy company, leading from the front in terms of sustainability in the digital economy. The company is listed in Europe and its yearly revenue is about EUR25 billion. We work globally in three big areas: energy, automation, and software. The biggest themes we are focused on addressing is around digitization, energy sustainability, and climate change. Digitalization affects everything we do; in the oil and gas sector, we are engaged with making operating assets of petrochemical companies safer, more effective, more productive, and more agile. We deliver solutions on how to make electrification more sustainable and safer, we provide the electrical distribution systems and their incumbent infrastructure for a variety of sites. Additionally, we implement automation systems to safely and productively run assets. As the world’s leading supplier of safety systems in petrochemicals and refining, we also have operations regarding software, including design, simulation, and optimization.

What trends regarding technological adoption do you see in the field?

On a global level, the oil and gas industry is diverse in terms of adoption levels—some firms are at an early stage while others are advanced. ADNOC is one of the global leaders, driven by high-quality leadership and the national drive towards digitization. ADNOC is a leading adopter of technologies, and we are proud to be working with them. The level of adoption in the UAE is strong, and I am aware that other players are looking at ADNOC as a leader and as an example. There is not a single blueprint, but in Abu Dhabi there is a strong culture of early adoption which really puts them in a strong position.

What is the significance of working with ADNOC on the Panorama Command Center, and what do you think this level of technology means for the wider industry?

The Panorama Command Center is ADNOC’s platform for driving digitialization across the organization. Schneider Electric’s technology is what drives Panorama and will enable greater digital engagement on all levels. Panorama allows the C-suite to see all of ADNOC’s operations in a single room, therefore, they can undergo an intuitive examination of the processes and how infrastructure can be developed. This was very empowering for ADNOC, and they are starting to develop new systems in response to what they are learning from the center. ADNOC currently has around 130 compressors and turbines, and its able to determine why certain assets perform better in comparison to others, allowing it to adjust operations practices and allowing us to assist them in maximizing efficiency. Panorama allows ADNOC to totally optimize its operations; it delivers excellent cost-benefit analysis and million-dollar savings on a regular basis. We are proud to have been able to facilitate the first leg of ADNOC’s development in this area. One of the core reasons we were successful in the Panorama project is that we were the only company capable of providing solutions that could be compatible with third parties. Many other firms also have open protocols, we are not the only ones. But we are willing to have our architecture and systems open, which allows us to work with different partners and solution providers.

How do these advanced technologies tie into your other operations in different sectors?

Schneider Electric’s operations in the UAE are not limited to the oil and gas industry. For example, Schneider Electric is significantly involved in creating efficiencies in buildings and water networks, including Dubai Municipality, NPCC, Al Rawabi Dairy, and Hilton Garden Inn MoE. The technology we are using with Panorama is called Wonderware, and it has also been deployed in smart city solutions and at present, we are using it in an Indian city near New Delhi called Naya Raipur, India’s first greenfield Smart City. The technology is useful across multiple applications. Schneider is heavily involved with green technology and sustainability solutions, in particular global energy challenges. The world needs 50% more energy, but that energy needs to be three times as efficient in the reduction of greenhouse gases. A lot of these challenges are being solved through our digitization and electrification efforts. Furthermore, we are maximizing efficiencies across electrical usage systems to make us greener; these sustainable considerations permeate through Schneider Electric’s global operations.

Where do new technologies such as AI fit into Schneider Electric’s strategy and what is your assessment of the level of impact this technology will have?

Schneider Electric is involved in the development and application of nearly every new major tech idea. A fundamental component of this is the new company we have created this year called AVEVA. We have taken all of Schneider Electric’s software operations and merged it with an existing British company called AVEVA; the new firm remains listed on the British stock market but it is now 60% owned by Schneider. This plan was in line with the company’s objective to acquire a single agile vehicle for its digitization and software. AVEVA originally started as a Cambridge University startup that was focused on designing software for the oil and gas sector. At present, AVEVA is working with Schneider Electric on AI technologies related to asset maintenance. This includes digitally twinning a real asset and using the digital version to enhance operation sustainability and optimization. At present, we have R&D centers in the UK, the US, India, and the Middle East. The sustainability of these assets comes from changing behaviors as well as changing technology. We want to change the way oil companies operate so that these technologies become embedded parts of operational behavior, thereby driving optimized outcomes. We have technologies that prompt operators, for example, through the correct processes so they can behave in the safest way. Additionally, we must engage with personnel on how to use assets properly when manually collecting data so that the data is usefully informing broader systems. Training and positive reinforcement are vital in motivating people properly. We want to create technologies that are intuitively making people more efficient and are thus incentivizing people to operate in the best possible way. Therefore, the company is working on making adoption more natural and thus more widespread and effective. This requires an understanding of local culture and how it affects operations. While this is a global story, there seems to be national and regional differences on how to use technology. The faster we adopt good digital technologies, the faster we can ensure that our operations are optimized for long-term sustainability.



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