AI and Energy

Taking data further, faster with a growing focus on artificial intelligence

The prospect of greater speed and lower processing costs makes the application of AI valuable to upstream operators.

Taking data further, faster with a growing focus on artificial intelligence

Keen to engage and collaborate, Aramco specialists from the Delft Global Research Center (GRC) in the Netherlands spent part of this summer focusing on upstream technologies, joining online discussions on the growing role of artificial intelligence (AI).


In 2019, AI’s value to the industry was $2 billion, and it is expected to surpass $3.8 billion by 2025 (a pre-pandemic estimation). European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) Netherlands chapter president Diego Rovetta, an upstream specialist at Aramco’s GRC, highlighted the crucial opportunities available to the energy industry through AI.


Alongside smart software, cloud, and supercomputing, AI can take data interpretation to a new level.


AI is a big term that can mean many things, including making machines smarter. Advanced algorithms allow for fast track solutions, reducing delivery times in seismic data processing, and subsurface imaging.
Paul Zwartjes, a senior research geophysicist at GRC and a recognized expert in his field


“However, this does not mean we can predict drill locations using only data and AI — that would be hasty, though it can help with part of the problems,” he added.


And with AI, turnaround times could go from six to 12 months down to one to three months, with integration to existing workflows helping improve data processing, velocity model building, and imaging. Zwartjes offered case studies that showed AI outperforming regular tools, in terms of not only efficiency, but also effectiveness.


Indeed, the prospect of greater speed and lower processing costs makes the application of AI valuable to upstream operators, through faster and cheaper ways to determine if oil at the bottom of a well is feasible to drill.


Temperature profile, hole size and shape, rock density, porosity and formation, and fluid resistance are some of the attributes that can be analyzed more quickly and accurately by algorithms than by humans.



The AI webinar saw interaction from several chapters of the host organization EAGE, including the Netherlands, London, Oslo, Paris, and Aberdeen. Some student chapters were also in attendance.


“This initiative is great in strengthening further the name of the Aramco Delft Global Research Center in the geophysical community,” said Roald van Borselen, GRC chief representative. “The talk clearly demonstrated the leadership position of Aramco in adopting AI in novel seismic data processing applications.”


Through GRC, Aramco looks to collaborate with various institutions to conduct research and develop geophysical technologies, to help solve the sector’s greatest challenges and GRC’s primary goal of developing breakthrough technology in AI for Aramco’s in-Kingdom operations.


Also sharing his thoughts was Norbert Dolle, co-founder of White Space Energy, a company exploring the use of AI in complex decision making. Dolle, who formerly worked at Shell, underlined how the energy industry relies on successfully making difficult choices across the value chain comprised of multiple options, risk, as well as competing drivers like safety and time constraints.


As part of its continuing drive to be at the cutting-edge in the oil and gas industry, Aramco’s experts work hard to remain at the fore of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as artificial intelligence, taking the lead at international forums among global experts.

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