From chess-playing computers and self-driving cars to conversational chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) has already made a global impact. Many industries like healthcare, finance, education, and transportation are already being transformed by AI capabilities. While the oil and gas industry is not typically seen as an AI innovator, that perception may change very soon. Leaders in oil and gas have already devoted the budgets and talent necessary to implement AI, and smaller players in the industry are expected to quickly jump on board to avoid being left behind.
The Future of Artificial Intelligence in Oil and Gas
Despite a slow start, oil and gas companies now seem eager to adopt all sorts of digital technology to keep costs low and boost efficiency. The power of the current Permian oil and gas boom is the perfect example of how the adoption of new technologies like directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing have increased yields. The application of AI technologies seems to be the next step for the industry, as it continues to seek solutions to boost growth.
Artificial intelligence for oil and gas is a huge potential market. A Markets and Market report estimates the value of AI in the oil and gas industry will grow from $1.57 billion in 2017 to $2.85 billion by 2022. The digitalization of the oil and gas industry, the rising pressure to reduce production costs and investments in AI-related start-ups are the driving factors behind this growth. As of now, North America is the largest market using AI in oil gas, closely followed by Europe and the Asia Pacific.
Why AI is Important to the Oil and Gas Industry
Oil and gas is a huge industry made up of three major operational sectors: upstream (exploration and production), midstream (transportation and storage) and downstream (refining and selling). There are many ways to apply AI technologies to each of these different sectors. Here are just a few of the ways AI can help oil and gas companies:
Just ten years ago, even the most advanced AI could only advise businesses in retrospect. For example, AI might pinpoint where a specific preventative action could have been taken to prevent failure. While technology has helped companies make accurate decisions in the future, it did little in real time.
Today, with the help of advanced sensors and software powered by AI, businesses are able to not only process a large amount of data but also output real-time responses on the best course of action. AI tools can help oil and gas companies digitize their records and automate the analysis of geological data charts. Over time, these records can then help companies identify issues like pipeline corrosion or increased equipment usage.
Exploration and Production
Most drilling and production wells are located in remote areas, which means sending workers there significantly increases costs. Oil well operators usually generate daily reports on inspection and maintenance operations on site; these reports are typically unstructured or semi-structured documents on either paper or in the form of PDFs. Oil and gas companies can now use AI technologies (like computer vision) to extract data from these documents automatically.
Other AI-based analytics can help companies better utilize the large amounts of data – ultrasound data, production process data, drilling operations data, pipeline inspection data, and seismic data – collected from their plants daily. These analytics, ultimately, reduce the cost of exploring, extracting, processing and delivering oil. The development of exploration robots could also help oil and gas companies reduce exploration time and costs and allow human employees to stay out of harm’s way.
Mapping and Analyzing
AI also has the capabilities to help oil and gas companies map and analyze the seismic activity in a potential oilfield. Thus far, this task involves geologists manually analyzing image files. AI systems are now being developed that will help geologists interpret subsurface images from seismic studies faster, thanks to computer vision.
Currently, new projects are underway to develop software that can go a step further: software that can analyze the image files and then correlate those findings with information extracted from technical documents. These findings could then be fed into an AI assistant that can answer questions about the subsurface data. If successful, this software will simplify the process of identifying patterns that indicate economic liabilities a company may encounter in a new field.
Safety and Planning
AI assistants are also being used to transform safety meetings. AI technologies can identify key details, provide actionable summaries and remove the need for multitasking during important discussions. Utilizing an AI assistant can also help oil and gas workers make safety-critical decisions in real time and handle the ever-growing complexity of engineering systems.
Automating routine manual activities not only improves productivity but also reduces the risk to human workers. Some companies are already using software that analyzes production and sensor data (including pump pressures, flow rates, and temperatures) to predict what equipment and parts are at high risk for failures. AI can also help oil and gas companies make better, faster drilling and blasting decisions, improving both productivity and safety.
There are already many known AI applications in the industry, with so many more just waiting to be discovered. From exploration and planning to forecasting and safety, the future of AI in the oil and gas industry is bright. Many experts believe that 2019 is the year for artificial intelligence and oil and gas – when AI goes from theory to practice.
Security Business Capital’s Oil Services Factoring Services
Does your oil and gas company need extra cash to keep up with the rapid growth and changes in the industry? Located in the heart of the Permian Basin, Security Business Capital understands changes and opportunities can happen overnight. The team of experts at Security Business Capital have years of expertise in providing flexible cash flow solutions that help business thrive. Our invoice factoring services, for example, provide the quick source of funding you need to pay the bills on time, invest in equipment, hire more workers and increase the size of your business.
To learn more about how our services and work and how they can help your oil and gas company grow, contact us today for a free quote or consultation.