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Long-term collaborations are being formed between high-tech
giants and oil and gas players, as digitalization of the oilfield
The expansion of upstream oil and gas’s
digital business is opening fresh areas for collaboration. A new
multi-year agreement between Aberdeen-headquartered Wood Group and IBM
to transform asset life cycle management reveals the ever-closer
relationship between big tech and the oil and gas industry.
tie-up between Wood, a global leader in the delivery of project,
engineering and technical services to energy markets, and IBM --
announced in early May -- combines Wood’s engineering, innovation and
industry expertise with Big Blue’s advanced market leading technologies
in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and
analytics. The aim is to advance operational efficiencies for customers
in industrial and energy markets.
IBM has a global cloud platform
and cognitive solutions company with capabilities in data and analytics,
IoT, mobile, blockchain and security that has substantial application
potential across the upstream space.
Wood and IBM are set to look
to develop solutions and explore new ways to apply AI and advanced
Platforms to improve productivity and expand digital insight.
A Wood official told Upstream Intelligence
that it considered it a “proactive step in addressing the challenges of
the energy and associated industries during an era of digitisation and
the emergence of new technologies, following the creation of Wood from
the acquisition of AMEC Foster Wheeler and IBM’s new identity as a
cloud, cognitive and digital reinvention company.”
initial phase of the collaboration will focus on oil producers and
utilities in three areas where the two companies believe they can bring
immediate value to oil and gas clients. These are:
design & planning – combining digital processes and data management
tools to provide predictable costs and seamless integration from design
Asset insights – providing leading edge
analytics platforms to provide insight to asset owners and operators
looking to improve operational efficiency, predict operational or safety
issues and drive down costs associated with brownfield assets.
execution excellence – the use of blockchain and cognitive capabilities
to ensure effective and safe execution of the work scope through
advanced control of work solutions that manage worksites, personnel,
materials and equipment in accordance with the project plan.
reason for focusing on these three areas is that Wood sees a clear
value proposition inf integrated digital technology solutions enhanced
by data and machine learning. “We are focused on deriving increased
knowledge from data to bring insights and improved operational
efficiency, enhanced asset integrity and advanced working solutions for
our people, our locations, materials and equipment,” the official told Upstream Intelligence.
to Bob MacDonald, CEO of Wood Specialist Technical Solutions, by
combining Wood’s engineering innovation, understanding of client
operational objectives and domain expertise with IBM’s market leading
advanced technologies such as cognitive, blockchain, and Quantum, “we
will help unlock new insights, to learn from and make predictions on
The Wood official told Upstream Intelligence that it brings
its “extensive domain knowledge in the energy and industrial
sectors. It also brings a wealth of experience in developing engineering
and digital solutions to the design, operation and life cycle
management of assets across those sectors.”
Services Leader for the Industrial Sector, John Sullivan said that
together with Wood it was embracing the opportunity to deliver new
industry solutions and services that improve “operational efficiencies,
advance digital capabilities and build innovative ecosystems.”
offering to oil and gas companies includes its Watson system – a
supercomputer combining AI with analytical hardware as a
question-answering machine -- which is also being deployed by Australian
oil company Woodside Petroleum to analyse 30 years of internal data.
with Watson, Woodside Energy has built a customised tool that allowed
its employees to find detailed answers to highly specific questions—even
on remote oil and gas facilities. Watson ingested the equivalent of
38,000 Woodside documents. This would take a human over five years to
This corpus of knowledge evolved into Willow,
Woodside’s cognitive solution powered by Watson on IBM Cloud. Now
employees anywhere in the world can access this expertise and locate
technical data to make quicker, smarter, more fact-based decisions.
According to the companies, Watson has helped reduce the time spent searching for expert knowledge by 75%.
Caption: Australia’s Woodside uses IBM Watson to enhance decision making and increase efficiencies
is not the only big tech company to have built up close relations with
oil and gas companies. Microsoft and oilfield services giant
Schlumberger announced a collaboration in September last year intended
to digitize the business of oil and gas drilling. This saw the
introduction of the DrillPlan digital well construction planning
solution, leveraging Microsoft Azure and the Azure Stack hybrid cloud
solution along with Microsoft’s collaboration solutions.
DrillPlan, operators and service companies have access to data and
science needed in a single, common system—creating a circular workflow
where plans are improved as new data is added, enabling future drilling
programs to benefit from prior experience. Schlumberger said
interoperability with Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Teams is
generating new levels of collaboration among teams and stakeholders,
resulting in a step change in productivity.
executive vice president, Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft Corp, said
that as the oil and gas industry continues to evolve and demand more
digital capabilities, the partnership with Schlumberger would allow it
to remain on the forefront of innovation.
Wood itself is also
working with other big tech firms. In April 2018, Wood, Cisco and Roue
Consultores opened a new oil and gas Advanced Technology Center (ATC) at
Wood’s operations center in Naucalpan, Mexico.
The new facility
will simulate, execute, and manage the operation and maintenance of
hydrocarbon transportation systems in a laboratory environment, Wood
said in a statement. The Center is open to any local or international
company working in the upstream, midstream or downstream oil and gas
industry. Isidro Quintana, general director of Cisco México, said the
oil and gas Advanced Technology Center would make it possible to realize
the technology that helps in the digitization of the industry.
The Oil and Gas Advanced Technology Center (ATC) located in Wood’s
operations center in Naucalpan, Estado de Mexico, is a joint initiative