Oil Companies Use AI to Drill for Efficiency, Safety

The oil and gas industry is being challenged to adapt and optimize performance in every way possible to maintain profitability.

Artificial intelligence can provide operational optimization that will help oil and gas companies remain competitive while holding down costs and improving productivity. AI can help automate and optimize tasks like scheduling well service, deploying pumpers to the wells that need them the most, evaluating new drill sites, inspecting existing facilities and equipment, and managing assets.


Oil Field in Xinjiang, China (Source: zgsyb.com.cn)

AI is expected to have a CAGR of 12 percent by 2023 in the oil and gas sector, according to a recent research report. Another analysis puts the AI investment in the oil and gas industry at $1.42 billion in 2016, growing 12.66 percent through 2022 to reach $2.85 billion. This growth will be driven by companies striving to improve operational efficiency via predictive maintenance and avoiding costly downtime.

According to this article in TechEmergence, companies are already using robots designed with AI capabilities for hydrocarbon exploration and production, as well as to improve efficiency while reducing risk to employees.

ExxonMobil is developing AI-based robots for ocean exploration. Shell hopes to integrate AI into robots that can perform inspections while Sinopec is planning to leverage AI for a “smart manufacturing platform” that can deliver a centralized method of data management as well as support integration of data across multiple applications used to optimize its factory operations.

AI can be used to analyze Big Data, which will augment exploration and production (E&P) capabilities, as well as help address the growing need for automation to reduce production costs. This type of automation can also help improve employee working conditions.

oil and analytics

RFID technology will be a critical part of this move toward automation, and can be tied directly into AI-driven solutions. A report from Deloitte shows that more than 40 percent of oil and gas companies agree that RFID technology is among the “high-impact technologies going mainstream around 2020.”

Energy companies are increasingly turning to RFID technology to enable advanced asset tracking, MRO management, and other applications that can help provide the data needed for AI solutions and Big Data analysis. China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) is using Xerafy’s Xplorer tags to track oil pipes for asset management and maintenance purposes. Likewise, PetroChina is using the company’s rugged Dot Wedge RFID tags to track and monitor pipeline assets at its Xinjiang Oilfield to improve productivity, maintenance, and safety.

Join the discussion: How can RFID solutions for the oil & gas industry help drive AI adoption?

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