The widespread implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) for commercial purposes did not begin until relatively recently. AI has spread to several different industries, including oil and gas for example, in a very short amount of time.
Why is AI important?
In this modern era, running operations for organisations and projects can be a challenge due to the large amount of data being generated every single day. Making complex decisions in a short amount of time is often necessary in certain industries.
AI enables us to assess risks and come up with solutions much faster than we normally can. This makes it an invaluable tool for completing time-sensitive and costly projects with greater precision and a clearer view of what will be achieved. For this reason, AI can be an invaluable asset for organisations in the oil and gas industry.
Below are some areas where AI and other emerging technologies can be used in the oil and gas industry.
1. Improving Exploration Methods Efforts
AI has been vital to the success of many exploration projects in the oil and gas sector. A recent example comes from ExxonMobil which automated their hydrocarbon exploration activities by developing underwater exploration robots with the help of scientists from MIT.
The AI-software developed for this purpose is similar to the kind used for NASA’s Curiosity rover that was launched in 2011. The robots developed by Exxonmobil are equipped with sensors for detecting natural seep and identifying hydrocarbon-rich sites in the underwater subsurface.
This approach to exploration is much safer than the traditional method, which involved divers descending to the ocean floor regularly to identify deposits. Naturally, these operations carried many risks that put divers into harm’s way. Using robots keeps valuable staff out of the water, while still enabling geoscientists to identify hydrocarbon deposits.
2. Improved Decision-Making
Oil and gas production involves many different processes that occur simultaneously. The data from these operations is usually recorded by staff before being communicated to managers and supervisors. However, this can be a slow and tedious process, especially given how time-sensitive problems in these areas can be.
Oil and gas production facilities can implement digital monitoring tools that automatically relay information to the main control hub. This keeps supervisors in-charge of shutting down operations in-the-loop.
However, having access to large swaths of raw data alone may not be very helpful. Processing this information through conventional tools could take time, and the system may not be able to handle such a large volume of information at once.
To get around these issues, organisations can use AI programs to analyse Big Data. This enables supervisors to receive a simplified yet comprehensive overview of operations, which facilitates faster decision making.
3. Remote Monitoring And Surveillance
Some companies in the oil and gas sector have begun using small aerial drones for remote monitoring and surveying. These drones feature high quality cameras that broadcast a live video feed to the operator. They can access high-up areas that would otherwise take a long time for staff to access themselves.
Drones in the oil and gas industry are used for monitoring tankers, vehicles, and other equipment that is necessary for operations. They are also frequently used to track progress during construction. This makes them a faster and safer alternative in dangerous scenarios that would be risky for staff to visit in-person.
4. Aiding Preventative Maintenance
Some of the largest oil and gas disasters in history have occurred due to poor maintenance or failure to identify risks. For this reason, preventative maintenance and risk detection is crucial for safe operations in these industries. For example, the recent Indian Ocean offshore oil spill of over 1,000 tons of fuel oil in Mauritius was caused by a Japanese ship hitting a coral reef.While it is possible for staff to perform regular inspections in-person, they can be time consuming, prone to human error and not reactive enough to combat the issue at hand. For this reason, many oil and gas facilities have set up sensors on key infrastructure.
5. Promoting Safety At Worksites
Maintaining the safety of workers is a top priority for oil and gas firms. Work-related injuries in these industries have the potential to halt operations and cost the company millions in damages – preventing human harm is crucial. These companies often provide workers with personal protective equipment (PPE) to wear on-site; however, there is no guarantee that they will abide by company rules.
Workers that neglect the importance of PPE can be difficult to scope out, as they may be working in remote areas where other staff are not present. To get around this problem, organisations can set up automated AI monitoring systems to ensure employees are wearing the correct PPE.
These systems can also notify the health and safety department if any staff member falls or gets injured. This allows emergency personnel to dispatch as soon as possible so that the injured staff member is tended to quickly.
Emerging Technology In Renewable Energy
The aforementioned technologies have been successfully implemented in the oil and gas and innovation and product development in this space is evolving. Some of these innovations have also been applied in the renewable energy sector, with many other new technologies that look promising: utility cost monitoring, smart buildings/homes and energy management, smart systems and supply integration.
Firms that are investigating green energy carriers or seeking hydrogen consulting solutions and may benefit from exploring and investing in new, growingly cost-competitive and scalable technology for their operations.
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