At a time of low oil prices, artificial intelligence (AI) is offering new hope to executives in the oil and gas sector that healthy margins are still achievable. It is in upstream operations, where field developments can cost tens of billions of dollars, that AI’s potential is perhaps most keenly anticipated. BP’s chief executive of upstream Bernard Looney told a conference last year that AI, combined with supercomputing, “is helping us to see our world through new eyes”, adding: “We can uncover resources. We can compare wells instantly. We can pinpoint corrosion risks by applying machine learning to 40 years’ worth of data.” In other words, through digitisation and the use of AI, there may be new opportunities to extract more product from oil and gas fields, with less capital investment. Huge amounts of computing power and data storage are still needed to sift through seismic data images and produce drilling simulations that help maximise likely production. But these are now more accessible at lower cost through cloud technologies. Last year French oil company Total announced it was partnering with Google Cloud to jointly develop AI technologies that will be applied to exploring and assessing oil and gas fields. Financial Times

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