It is a contradiction that our industry has a reputation for being, and in fact is, very conservative when it comes to adopting new technologies and yet is made up of individuals (also known as consumers) who are anything but that: the latter will pick up a Blackberry like they are going out of fashion but drop it in favour of a smartphone almost overnight!
And when I talk to colleagues in the industry and ask them about their reaction to specific new technologies and to those marketing them, they will say things like “this is a solution looking for a problem; they have no domain knowledge; etc”.
In fact the phrase “solution(s) looking for a problem” seemed to me to have become a shorthand for “we ain't going to buy it!” so the other day I googled on this phrase and came upon this interesting short article. It is worth clicking on this to get it onto a separate Tab and coming back to my article when you have read it!
You will see that he is referring specifically to entrepreneurs when he says “I have found that when they have worked in the industry and have lived the problem they are trying to solve, they have a much better shot at success.” To me this defines what the comment about ‘domain knowledge' implies…..….the folk pitching the technology don't understand the problem that might be solved.
So I thought I would do a couple of things.
Firstly I would write down no more than 4 or 5 problems which I see in E&P: these are my ideas and others will have different ones – a point which will I will come to in 5 or 6 lines. How do we:
1. Explore for onshore oil?
2. Move seismic interpretation out of the Stone Age?
3. Solve the “cloud of points” problem?
4. Improve Projects – they are invariably late, over budget and oftentimes do not deliver what was promised production rates?
5. Spot equipment failures ahead of the “Aw, snap!!” message?
I will work my way through the first three of these shortly but please feel free to tell me/us if you have another problem that you think is important to crack.
1. Exploring for onshore oil
We need to remind ourselves that we are not just interpreters of 3D or 4D (towed streamer) seismic but actually need to integrate a wide variety of data.
Exploring onshore, we might have to integrate satellite and airborne data, a significant number of well results (logs, cuttings, core, flow rates), potential field, seismic, surface geology etc.
How might satellite and airborne data help?
Well, it is fairly well documented that seepage of petroleum, and here I am talking about micro-seepage, can impact both the health of vegetation and the colour of surface-exposed rocks. Such changes should be visible both from space and from altitude, and the data available to us has mushroomed both in amount and in the variety and resolution of sensor technologies. Can we get at the meaningful patterns using Analytics?
2. Moving seismic interpretation out of the Stone Age
You may have seen the news of the resounding win by the artificial intelligence program AlphaGo (built in the UK! Hooray!! Now owned by Google…..) over the South Korean world champion, the Go master, in the complex board game Go back in March.
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