Microsoft: Biggest risk to oil and gas industry is artificial intelligence


Omar Saleh, Microsoft’s oil and gas director for Africa and the Middle East, said that over the next five to ten years the greatest threat to the oil and gas industry is artificial intelligence (AI).

Speaking at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition Conference, Saleh said that technology disruptions in last three years has been a “wake-up call” for oil and gas firms. He warned that AI would be of “massive importance” to the industry over the next decade both in its ability to assist and endanger it.

As the technology becomes smarter and proliferates further into the industry, many firms are already embracing the idea. In a report, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Digitalization & Energy department stated that AI “offers a great deal of promise.”

“AI could be used to analyze well performance, troubleshoot underperforming fields, suggest corrective actions and even deploy robots to carry out tasks…It could also enhance reservoir modelling, and thus aid operations by rapidly detecting and correcting suboptimal production behavior.” the report went on to say.

Faith Birol, executive director for the IEA, said “Energy companies with whom we work very closely- oil, gas, electricity, [and] technology companies- are increasing their investment in digital technologies. Our numbers show that the investment in digital infrastructure has increased by 20% each year over the past couple years.”

According to oil and gas consulting firm McKinsey, the oil and gas supply chain stands to gain as much as $50 billion in savings and increased profit through the adoption of AI.

The most popular AI applications currently in the industry include intelligent robots, which assist in hydrocarbon exploration and production, and virtual assistants, online platforms that help customers and employees navigate product databases and fields general inquires.

Chevron uses complex AI software to analyze the historical well performance data and use the results to inform future drilling locations. As a result of this practice, they have seen production rise 30% over conventional methods.

Article written by HEI contributor Kevin Abbott.

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1 Comment on "Microsoft: Biggest risk to oil and gas industry is artificial intelligence"

  1. Mark A. Swope, P.E. | November 16, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Reply

    Why is this characterized as “a threat?”

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