Records and industry trends show that geoscientists are slow in embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in the 4th Industrial Revolution – 4.0. While we see and enjoy AI applications happening all over the world at a fast pace, we must admit that the E&P industry in general and geosciences in particular has been shy when it comes to embracing AI technology. Research the web for the top successful and value-adding AI applications in the world and you will find healthcare, automobile, retail, agriculture and many others – but not geosciences.
Future Potential of AI in E&P
However; AI in E&P will catch up big time because of the limitless potential ideas for applications. In the oil industry, we have already seen security drones piloting oilfields and will soon see sophisticated drones equipped with thermal sensors and methane detectors that can roam oilfields or even dive under the sea to detect oil and gas leaks and notify maintenance teams immediately for quick repairs, minimizing losses and protecting humans and environment. Drones equipped with hyper-sensitive cameras will be able to identify changing vegetation and soil color around pipelines in a time-lapse mode to signal immediate response.
Industry Challenges & Opportunities
Geosciences will take a bit longer to ride 4.0 due to the complexity of the business. Dealing with huge volumes of data collected through sensors such as micro-seismic, fiber-optics, and logging will bring new challenges and unexpected opportunities. Think about the following headlines: AI Algorithm Identifies a Stratigraphic Trap not Seen Earlier from a Poor-Quality Seismic Data; An Offshore Producing Well Shuts Itself Down as it Senses a Potential Major Blowout; AI-Driven Drilling Bit that “Smells” High Oil Saturations was Successfully Tested; The First 100% Self-Optimized Smart Field Officially Inaugurated.
AI Advancements at GEO 2020
The theme of GEO 2020 conference which will be held in the Kingdom of Bahrain in March 2020, was selected by the committees to address this matter; Geosciences in the Digital World: 2020 and Beyond. The conference will hopefully showcase, highlight and identify new opportunities and challenges. In line with other sectors, we strongly believe that advancements in the cloud technologies, analytics, IoT, AI and Machine Learning will provide geoscientists with powerful tools in dealing with complex problems and that we are just in the beginning of this new fascinating era.
So where are Geosciences in the AI world today?
About the Author
Senior Advisor to H.E. the Minister of Oil, Shaikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalfia
GEO 2020 General Chair
Hisham Zubari previously held the position of Deputy CEO for Tatweer Petroleum. He has over 30 years of experience in upstream oil & gas and has published 14 technical papers mainly on the management of mature Bahrain fields. Hisham is a country representative for AAPG and Chairman of SPE-Bahrain Section. He holds a B.Sc. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.