Woodside Petroleum invests in artificial intelligence to try to combat tumbling oil prices
Oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum has established an artificial intelligence unit and is investing heavily in predictive technology to become more productive in the face of tumbling oil prices.
Speaking at an event in Perth, senior Woodside executive Shaun Gregory said artificial intelligence (AI) technology was giving the company a competitive edge in tough market conditions.
“Four months ago we had nothing in analytics, today our analytics platform is larger than Twitter,” he said.
“Are we replacing humans? Absolutely not. People are now understanding what we are doing, bringing knowledge quicker to the humans.
“Our search for data that may today in Woodside have taken days, through AI takes a second, because it is just so efficient.”
The company also revealed it is developing algorithms to predict when systems require maintenance or are likely to fail.
“The biggest thing we have seen in the past 12 months has been digital and the evolution of computing, artificial intelligence, big data analysis,” Mr Gregory said.
“We started a tiny pilot in October last year and we are now looking end-to-end, our entire value chain, so from exploration all the way through to the final marketing.
“[Algorithms] are making a prediction, they can also self-analyse how successful they are, so they track their own success rate and they can publish themselves ‘that I’m not good enough’.”
Mr Gregory said within months the algorithms had become much more efficient and were now up to 85 per cent accurate.
“We now predict that events are going to happen in one week, one month, three months time and intercept the failure before it happens,” he said.
“So you get a whole lot more efficiency and maintenance and increased production.”
Browse project an engineering challenge
The company’s big push into innovation is perhaps most publicly noticeable in its plans to develop the Browse project off the Kimberley coast using Floating LNG technology.
The project has been plagued with delays and cost blow-outs, forcing the company to walk away from onshore development at James Price Point.
Mr Gregory said the field may have been discovered 40 years ago but it remained one of the biggest engineering challenges in the world.
“It has been around a long time, it has certainly got its challenges — it is 400 kilometres offshore, sitting underneath a reef,” he said.
“We had a real good go at it using traditional technology at James Price Point and it just got too expensive and there was too much kit, it was costing too much money.
“So [floating LNG] as an innovation reduced the amount of kit we needed by a lot, it allowed us to have a last stab at it, or another stab at it, that is looking a lot more promising.
“Effectively it has removed over half the infrastructure you need to develop the same resource and therefore reduces the cost of that and enables the project.”
‘Perth companies must do more to sell their product’
Mr Gregory, who has spent a significant amount of time in Silicon Valley, said Perth companies had to do a better job at advertising their expertise.
“No-one shares what they are doing and people are scared about technology and innovation and intellectual property,” he said.
“The Square Kilometre Array (in WA’s Murchison region) is the world’s biggest science project, but the world doesn’t know that.
“There is a story that is not told and out of that comes a whole bunch of infrastructure, people, growth and we are leveraging that.”
Source: Woodside Petroleum invests in artificial intelligence to try to combat tumbling oil prices
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