Google Cloud and Total recently agreed to collaborate with each other in the development of AI solutions that would be applied particularly to subsurface data analysis for both gas and oil exploration and production (E&P). The arrangements centered on the creation of AI programs that would allow the interpretation of subsurface images, especially those drawn from seismic studies through computer vision technology and the automation of technical documents’ analysis via natural language processing.
According to the agreement between both companies, Total’s geoscientists will work together with Google Cloud’s machine learning professionals in the same project team operating from Google Cloud’s California-based Advanced Solutions Lab. According to Marie-Noelle Semeria, Total’s Senior VP and group CTO, the company believes that using artificial intelligence in the oil and gas sector is a promising venture to be explored for the purpose of boosting its performance, especially in the interpretation of subsurface data.
Total first began using artificial intelligence in the distinguishing of oil and gas fields through machine learning algorithms back in the 1990s. Later in 2013, the company applied machine learning algorithms to execute predictive maintenance for compressors, turbines and pumps at its industrial facilities. In turn, this move allowed Total to save several millions of dollars.
Currently, Total’s teams are looking at multiple deep learning and machine learning uses such as analysis of rock sample images, automated analysis of satellite images or production profile forecasting.
Kevin McLachlan, Total’s senior VP of Exploration & Production said that his team is convinced that Google’s artificial intelligence skills and Total’s geoscience expertise would guarantee the project’s success. He also added that Total’s Exploration & Production team aims at providing the company’s geoscience engineers with an AI personal assistant that would free them up from less important tasks in a bid to deal with crucial roles.
Paul-Henri Ferrand, Google Cloud’s president of global customer operations asserted that Google Cloud is enthusiastic about the collaboration between its best AI engineers and Total’s geoscience professionals.
Geoscience Makes the Difference
Jean-Michel Lavergne, Total’s senior VP of strategy, R&D, business development – E&P, acknowledged that geoscience is a company differentiator in the oil and gas industry. According to him, the field allows the company to identify new oil and gas sources better and faster than its competitors. Jean also said that geoscience interpreters regularly spend more than half of their entire time collecting the data they require for performing value-added tasks.
According to Jean-Michel, the objective of the new AI project is to minimize the time spent by teams on preparation tasks in a bid to allow them to concentrate on better tasks. Based on Google and Total ’s specialists involved in the project, activities like gathering documents, sorting them and undertaking preliminary analytics could be executed by AI, thus allowing Total ’s geoscience interpreters to go straight to the important work.
AI is made for managing and sorting big data in an attempt to deliver an operational base. Since Jean-Michel’s team is not sure whether it can teach machines to spot mistakes on seismic images, it is giving itself two years to come up with proof of concept.