Not an industry well-known for being at the forefront of technology, more and more gas and industry businesses are taking on the likes of artificial intelligence (AI) in an attempt to improve their services and increase their profits. Not only will AI help businesses make sense of all that data gathered by sensors and other devices, it will also help mould new business models, and help in the battle against cybercrime. “It will be an essential defense, creating a continuously adaptive risk and trust response,” said Gartner analyst Peter Sondergaard.
Bill Schneider is vice president of IT at Pioneer Energy Services. He confirmed how tech investments have slowed in the oil and gas industries since around 2014 when the prices of oil started to decline. While the company is using AI in the sense that it’s collecting data through the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s not actually analyzing this data and that’s where their focus should be. “There’s just a mountain of information to be harnessed there,” Schneider said. “And so part of our focus is first understanding what we have, and then trying to go back and figure out, OK, how can we apply AI to that to help understand how to improve our services.”
Another IT leader in the oil and gas industry is Yael Urman, director of applications at PBF Energy. Her company is very similar to Pioneer Energy Services, as it too pulls in a large amount of data from sensors but then does nothing with it. Through the use of AI they could really make a difference. “Whatever you did over the last 30 years, more or less, that’s what you continued to do,” said Urman. “So if you know that the life of the equipment is five years, every five years you replace it.” But integrating new AI technology with old historical data could cause issues.
So instead, the company is currently in the process of gathering information about how others in the industry use AI to enhance their business. One company in Australia uses IBM’s Watson to solve a similar issue, so Urman’s been getting some ideas there. “We believe that we can do better than any other company in terms of optimizing refineries,” she said. “We can be even more efficient, and we can even optimize better if we add a digital aspect.”