Tech 20 - Interview with Dr Andrew Starkey, Aberdeen University/ Founder Blueflow

Artifical Intelligence for the Changing Oil and Gas Industry

 

The Oil and Gas Technology Centre hosted it’s final Tech20 event for the summer, focusing on the topic of artificial intelligence. Dr Andrew Starkey shares his thoughts on the increasing potential of this technology for the Oil and Gas industry.

 

Can you tell us how the oil and gas industry has begun to adopt artificial intelligence (AI)?

 

The oil and gas industry is in the process of change, there are huge opportunities for the application of AI in lots of different areas. I’m involved in a couple of projects that are using AI in different ways in the oil and gas industry. Some of them are looking at using senses that are intelligent and being able to use these offshore and another one is to try and make software by Halliburton more intelligent by integrating, not just intelligence inside software. That’s just two examples and many more in lots of areas where AI is being developed and in the future can also be developed.

 

For you what are the key benefits of AI for oil and gas companies?

 

There are lots of benefits and there is huge opportunity. There are huge opportunities to help in terms of costs. For companies to drive down costs and identify where things are potentially costing too much. For example, conditioning monitoring type problems where were we going wrong?, but also you can use them for lots of different areas to identify new oil and gas opportunities. For example, whether it’s new fields, assessing them better and using historical data to better improve all the processes that oil and gas relies on.

 

What barriers could the oil and gas industry face when trying to embrace AI?

 

Some of the problems are related to the access of data. We know the oil and gas industry has huge amounts of data but some of it is siloed in different areas. Not always, even if it’s the same company, same service provider, they’re all over the place and some of that is also very old or in different formats. Artificial intelligence can help with bringing the data into the same format so we can then use it to then improve all the business processes. I think that’s one of the main issues.

 

When it comes to the future of AI, what would you like to see adopted more in the oil and gas industry?

 

Oil and gas industry has a big opportunity to show leadership in this area to show how AI can be used to improve lots of different business processes within the oil and gas sector. That can lead out to other areas, other parts of the economy, so it has a big opportunity to show leadership.

 

When it comes to AI, does this reduce the amount of manual work? Do you think this is a concern for companies or does it just mean we are using people with different skills?

 

Some of the uses of AI are not to replace people at all but to empower them to be able to make better decisions. AI can be used to identify what’s important in the data and what decisions can be made and then for humans at the end of the day to act on the recommendations by an AI service. It’s going to empower people and take away from them some of the donkey work of analysis that AI can do.

 

What would be your advice for oil and gas companies that are thinking about using AI, that have a problem they would like a solution for?

 

They can approach the OGTC themselves because they are a good congruent of who’s active in the community. Approach someone like myself at the university who’s obviously doing research in the area or to speak to a company like Blueflow that’s doing AI and technologies that will help solve some of these problems.

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