Now, more than ever, oil and gas companies are relying on cutting edge technology to get the job done. At the vanguard of this effort is the deployment of artificial intelligence; a technology that really is still in its infancy. Some say that the impact of this technology is still widely unproven, but those that would make such claim would have to count themselves in the minority – most industry experts agree that artificial intelligence is disrupting the oil and gas sector at an unprecedented rate.
This article will touch on the newest adaptations of AI, robotics, and machine learning into the oil and gas industry and how they work together to make extraction safer, more environmentally friendly, and more profitable.
In terms of organic-based computing power, there’s no questioning the dominance of the human brain. That being said, its machine learning technology and not the human brain that has been tasked with the inexorably difficult task of managing billions of dollars in assets and infrastructure. When there is ample historical data available, machine learning can be applied to develop a technological crystal ball that can be used to anticipate equipment failure before it becomes serious enough to stall operations.
It’s remarkable how time, combined with high-quality data, can be used to provide entire industries the ability to reasonably predict a maintenance issue that could cost significant downtime, environmental disaster, or a threat to human life. One such company that produces this kind of technology is Mobiltex Data Solutions. Their asset management system is specifically designed to target problem areas and predict failure before it can occur.
Maintenance: Reservoir and Production
There’s no doubt that resource extraction is a high risk endeavour; it poses a high risk for investors and a high risk for the environment. Reservoir speculation has come a long way in recent years and while pinpointing the best drill site can’t exactly be labelled as an exact science, the use of advanced analytical technology combined with geophysics and oil projection information have helped to make these activities a much safer bet.
Because the information is so reliable, drill companies can spend less time and effort in locating the best site and pay more attention to ensuring they capture the greatest output with the least amount of impact.
In terms of production output, products like gasoline, engine oil, and other petroleum-based products pose a considerable challenge when it comes to managing the supply of the end product. Like predictive maintenance, artificial intelligence technology can be used to make sound asset management decisions based on a mind boggling amount of data, thereby reducing costs and increasing margins.
Artificial intelligence isn’t just disrupting the oil and gas industry out in the field – it’s also making an impact in interacting with some of the producers’ largest customers. Though the use of and responsibilities given to these “virtual assistants” varies from one company to the next, it is easy to see their positive impact.
Shell’s virtual assistant for example (a 24/7 chatbot that goes by the names of Emma and Ethan), can make instantaneous recommendations based on a returning customer’s order history, thereby expediting the order with minimal effort required by the customer. In addition to the obvious benefit of a virtual assistant that can field sales inquiries around the clock, this application of AI technology offers the additional benefit of allowing the redistribution of human capital to other more technical endeavours and can represent a significant reduction in overhead costs to the company.
The interesting thing about how AI technology is making resource extraction safer is that it is leveraging an already well-established technology: RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. AI and machine learning can take the data collected by RFID tags to identify patterns in workflow and opportunities for efficiencies.
This in turn can reduce the time a worker must spend completing a dangerous task or finding a safer method for performing said task. Other wearable devices, like Smart Safety Helmets, track worker safety data and relays that information so that safety decisions can be made in real time.
As new AI systems and machine learning programs are developed, the landscape of the oil and gas industry will only continue to shift as new technologies are tested and new efficiencies are discovered. For those currently working or aspiring to work in the oil and gas industry, or even within automation programs, the integration of AI systems will necessitate more robust robotics education programs to increase the knowledge and skill sets of employees and companies alike.
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