Chevron turns to Australia for IBM Watson clues

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Chevron turns to Australia for IBM Watson clues

US giant to follow Woodside Energy into cognitive territory.

Oil and gas giant Chevron has revealed plans to use Watson cognitive computing in a new phase of its digital oilfield strategy, citing Australia’s Woodside Energy as an example of what can be achieved.

The plans and public citation at IBM’s InterConnect conference in Las Vegas this week are a major validation of Woodside’s expansive data science and cognitive drive, which won it top honours at the iTnews Benchmark Awards last month.

Senior upstream advisor Trond Unneland told the conference that Chevron had already experienced “fantastic results” with other forms of analytics, and was buoyed by this success to try more emerging technologies.

“I’m currently working with IBM Watson to explore how cognitive computing can add value to my company and we just started that exciting journey,” Unneland said.

“Fundamental to our growth is the ability to access data of high quality and increasingly use acquired data for improved decisions. I believe cognitive computing can be a key step.”

Chevron’s multi-year digital oilfield strategy has been underway since at least 2012, and – according to Unneland – the company has reached what he calls “level three”.

“Level one was when we increasingly put sensors everywhere to measure data in real time,” he said.

“The second level was when we integrated all of this data into models and we were able to get dashboards etc.

“The third level is when we started to do optimisation and predictive analytics. We’ve had fantastic results using advanced analytics and predictive analytics in our operation, and going forward we want to find new ways to extract information from the data we have acquired.”

Unneland believes Chevron “might be on the edge of a fourth level on this digital oilfield thanks to emerging technologies”, which he said included mobile computing, the internet of things, “and advanced analytics – and increasingly cognitive computing".

“We need to apply new ways to find correlation and insights to reach this level four of the digital oilfield,” he said.

“We are on the right path. We understand that data is just as much an asset as the physical structure and the oil in the ground, and we have efforts underway right now to improve quality of our data, to improve the governance and organisational capability.

“We have hired quite a number of data scientists and they are working together with geologists and petroleum engineers to improve performance.”

Chevron’s adoption of Watson appears mostly focused on the oil and petroleum portions of its business.

The company also has major liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in Australia – Gorgon and Wheatstone – and the fact it is taking clues on Watson from another Australian LNG operator could signify potential future growth opportunities internally for the cognitive platform.

Chevron also recently revealed that it is injecting data science into its infosec operations to mitigate against threats that try to exploit high levels of automation in the resources sector.

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