One of the biggest buzzwords across virtually every industry today is artificial intelligence (AI). But while we tend to associate a major AI presence in tech-minded fields like software development or data aggregation, it’s actually making huge inroads where you might least expect. Namely, in the commodities industry through advancements specific to oil and gas.
AI in the oil and gas industries has the potential to reach as much as $2.85 billion by 2022 based on current growth projections. That’s a year-over-year increase of just under 13%, illustrating demand for innovation that’s not going to slow down anytime soon. Breakthrough technologies like predictive drilling algorithms and downhole monitoring systems are driving industry growth and picking up steam thanks to the power of AI.
AI does what humans can’t
The reason for an uptick in AI applications within this industry is simple: AI does the impossible, or at least what’s impossible for humans to do. Specifically, it takes huge subsets of data, aggregates and parses them based on criteria, identifies patterns and probabilities, and spits out information we can use for decision making.
Take a company like ThoughtTrace. This company’s software closely analyzes complex oil and gas contracts to ensure stakeholders are able to completely dissect and understand them. For example, this AI is able to search for and pull out specific phrases, statements, and even semantic wording, shining a light on ambiguities or stipulations that could legally impact signatories.
Other examples of AI for oil and gas are more practical in the field. Critical safety systems are now monitored by predictive algorithms to help prevent failures and keep workers safe. Similarly, AI is being used to analyze data about drilling operations in order to formulate safer practices and processes.
Going beyond, AI is also bringing newfound boons to the oil and gas industry through predictive insights and improving production while also minimizing environmental impact. Dynamic systems are being deployed to alert well operators to service needs before failures and problems surface.
Touching every aspect of the industry
Commodities, like any industry, will continue to benefit from focus on AI. With potential at every stage of operations, there’s room for improvement across the board and huge opportunities to be explored. As new tech comes to light, the oil and gas trajectory will continue to trend upward.
The surge in demand for within the oil and gas industry is evident from the examples above. But these examples paint a bigger picture of AI’s potential: One that spans every phase of industry operations.
- Exploration — Industry leaders are already deploying intelligent robots for deep sea operations, detecting hydrocarbon chains from natural seep in rocks. Huge collaborators like MIT and ExxonMobil are driving this aspect of AI rapidly forward.
- Extraction — Oil giant Shell is pouring as much as $1 billion into AI ventures targeted at “improving the efficiency of its products, processes, and operations” as they relate to extraction and processing.
- Refinement — Companies like China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) are focusing on improving factory operations of its refinement facilities through the power of AI.
- Production — Beyond just the commodity itself, oil and gas processing as a business requires a focus on production innovation. Here again, Shell is looking to AI for help managing more than 10,000 data sheets pertaining to 16,500 unique chemical properties of its 3,000 oil products. AI is handling not only this huge pool of data, but all relevant subsets.