Like every other industry, with the advent of newer technology — artificial intelligence (AI), the energy industry is also going through a revolutionary change. With depleting global crude oil reserves, last year, the price of oil has also reduced to 40% raising troubles for oil and gas companies.
The energy sector comes with huge concerns over the environmental impact, and therefore oil and gas companies are using innovative technologies to curb the environmental impact as well as achieve business goals. New technologies like directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing are aimed at increasing yields and boost the industry. According to a report, the AI in the oil and gas market, worldwide, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.66%, to reach a market size of $2.85 billion by 2022. Currently, North America is leading the market followed by Europe and the Asia Pacific.
AI consists of various tools, such as machine learning, artificial neural networks, fuzzy logic and expert systems, which can help in transform data into actionable insights, which can be further used across various stages of exploration and production. These stages include seismic insights, drilling, metro physics, reservoir management and energy production.
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The velocity of disruption by using AI in the oil and gas industry is at a pace which is unheard of. These disruptions are hard to predict and are full of constant surprise. Whether its a startup or well-established business, all require to transform their business with respect to these newer technologies.
As there is an increasing amount of inflow of investments in startups for AI implementation, this, in turn, will further drive the demand for AI in the near future. Some of the prominent players of the industry are IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Accenture, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Numenta, Sentient Technologies, Inbenta, General Vision, Cisco, FuGenX Technologies, Infosys, and Hortonworks.
Since data interpretation is in huge demand and used for highlighting geologic features, AI is gaining huge interest in this sector by consumers. Ai can also eliminate the health and safety concerns by helping users to control critical tasks through automated systems. Globally, oil and gas companies are at the forefront of reengineering their production strategies and operational models in order to transform their businesses.
With upstream, midstream and downstream components involved in this industry, there are different ways AI could be implemented to help the oil and gas companies to enhance their business.
Being one of the critical sectors, oil and gas, AI comes with huge potential applications, whether be it surveying, planning or facility management and creating security framework. Earlier this year, ExxonMobil, a multinational oil and gas corporation headquartered in Texas, made headlines with their partnership with MIT to design AI robots for ocean exploration, aimed at improving its natural oil seep detection capabilities.
Brian William, leading the Model-based Embedded & Robotic System within the AI lab at MIT said that the goal of involving AI was to have these submersibles embody the reasoning of the scientists that program them. He said, “AI will help in analysing data, keeping themselves out of harm’s way, and determining novel solutions in situations that go beyond basic mission programming.”
One of the largest suppliers of natural gas to Europe and Turkey, Gazprom Neft is another oil and gas company that sees AI as a key technology to unlock the next productivity revolution in the industry. The company collaborated with Yandex, also known as Russia’s Google, in order to explore various potential artificial intelligence applications.
Alexander Khaytin, the executive director of Yandex Data Factory believes the oil and gas industry should implement solutions based AI because the industry handles a huge amount of data and AI will provide an easy solution for optimising the business production.
In fact, Royal Dutch Shell has been heavily investing in RnD of AI, to provide innovative solutions for most pressing challenges. a few years ago, the company also launched an AI-based assistant, with avatars named — Emma and Ethan, to address customers issues on common lubricant-related questions within seconds. According to officials, the assistant handles more than 100,000 datasheets for 3,000 products, understands 16,500 physical characteristics of lubricants, and provides information on 18,000 different pack sizes. Roger Moulding, VP of global marketing at Shell, said, “The virtual assistants are aimed to provide technical experts at the customer’s fingertips.”
Other major players of the industry are, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) and Total, who are using AI to move the innovation forward in the oil and gas industry.
Apart from treating AI assistants as customer support, it can also be used to provide actionable insights, identify key details and transform the business module. There are several known AI applications in the energy sector, and many more yet to be discovered. The leaders of the industry not only have the resources but also the budget to deploy AI solutions to reap benefits.
In India, several vendors are looking to produce innovative solutions to enhance the energy sector. Wipro has claimed to have closely worked with domestic and international oil and gas companies to provide AI solutions. Wipro Holmes, the AI platform was aimed to help leading LNG company in gaining operational and business insight.
Speaking to a media, S.T Sathiavageeswaran, Executive Director- Information Systems said, “HPCL (Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited) is effectively using analytics for managing dashboards, reporting insights, making decisions, visualising data, and creating sales analytics. In addition, HPCL has designed and implemented business analytics to provide industry performance analysis and insights with geographical analytical capability for the country, State, Districts, Zonal and Regional level comparisons.” HPCL has also invested in an AI-based startup Tranzmeo, which uses AI and ML to analyse machine behaviour and predict anomalies.
Another Silicon Valley software company — Nervana Systems, are also using AI to revolutionise oil exploration. The company uses deep learning to train an AI neural network to find oil and gas using the data collected from geo-seismic studies.
The prominent giants of the oil and gas industry are making bold strides with AI by integrating it in multiple areas, such as to reduce carbon footprint, deep-sea exploration of hydrocarbons, and to implement innovative and sustainable energy strategies to drive the evolution pace. However, with this digital revolution, safety measures and productivity needs to be improved by automating manual activities and reducing the risk of human errors.