LIFE 2017 examines artificial intelligence, machine learning in oil and gas

By EMILY QUERUBIN, Associate Editor, World Oil on 8/22/2017

HOUSTON -- Earlier today, Halliburton kicked off its Landmark Innovation Forum & Expo (LIFE) 2017 at the Westin Hotel in Houston. The event’s plenary sessions opened with an informative discussion between R. A. Walker, chairman, president and CEO of Anadarko Petroleum Corp., and Sean Gourley, founder and CEO of Primer. The latter is a venture-backed company that specializes in building software to drive artificial intelligence (AI) applications across a variety of industries.

The session, “Can Oil & Gas Catch up to the Valley?”, explored the energy sector’s need for cultural change. Gourley explained that, while working in Silicon Valley, he set out to replicate many human cognitive functions through AI and machine learning, to facilitate more practical application of digital solutions and subsequently create value.

Big Data, enterprise resource planning (ERP), augmented reality (AR), machine learning and utilization of the IoT are recognized as leading investment areas for digital transformation, particularly in oil and gas. However, the energy sector appears to be a few steps behind in effectively harnessing these capabilities. Gourley said, “We’re really just scratching the surface.”

He explained that, while machine learning is a prominent part of digitalization, it is the combination of human and machine that is expected to generate more powerful results. Walker and Gourley examined the industry’s need to cultivate a more attractive space for young talent, as well. Walker said, “We have a real problem attracting talent to the energy sector.”

Coinciding with the expo’s opening day, Halliburton also announced a strategic alliance with Microsoft, further solidifying the company’s commitment to driving digital transformation forward across the oil and gas industry. According to its press release, Halliburton’s alliance will combine its E&P science, software and services with Microsoft’s expertise in cloud and digital transformation to deliver tightly integrated solutions across the energy value chain.

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