Guest post from LiveWorx Sponsor SparkCognition

As the oil and gas (O&G) industry has stabilized, executives are turning their focus to strategies around the long-term macro challenges they face. Since industry conditions have become conducive to gaining insights from artificial intelligence, the O&G industry is poised to use this technology to solve its most pressing problems.

Codified Experience

AI systems can capture the knowledge and decisions of experienced employees and institutionalize it for less experienced workers and future hires. For example, a production engineer monitoring a well spends hours looking at each well’s characteristics to determine if it requires maintenance. This knowledge can be preserved as a basis for a machine learning system. The model can then take it a step further by looking at all the wells that previously needed maintenance and identifying a pattern of data that led a production engineer to make a certain maintenance decision.

This model can then be applied across thousands of wells in a field, flagging the wells that are at higher risk of needing maintenance. Here, the AI model has learned from the seasoned production engineer and extended that learning to less experienced employees. Additionally, it allows the less experienced engineers to quickly evaluate a larger number of wells and focus only on the wells that need the most attention.

Cost Reduction

The need to eliminate non-productive time (NPT) is an important objective of many operators. The main cause of NPT is unplanned equipment downtime, which can be addressed by the advanced predictive analytics capabilities of AI. These capabilities can provide days to weeks of failure forewarning for critical assets such as artificial lift systems, top drives, draw works, frac pumps, compressors, and more. Having this amount of advanced warning allows operators and service companies to get the right personnel and equipment on site to fix a problem before it occurs, or to plan maintenance ahead of time and amortize the cost of that maintenance over many assets.

Improvements to Health, Safety, and Environment

The desire to protect people and the environment is a top priority for all exploration and production operators. While optimizing maintenance schedules can in itself create a less dangerous environment by ensuring sites are visited only when necessary, AI can also monitor assets to ensure safe operations. Critical equipment (such as blowout preventers and pipelines) and the structural integrity of offshore platforms can all be monitored to identify data patterns that alert of impending safety issues. Furthermore, AI can monitor drilling conditions to detect impending catastrophic issues such as well kicks, which was behind the Deepwater Horizon disaster that resulted in massive loss of life and environmental damage.

The Future

The oil industry is now stabilizing from one of the most severe downturns it has ever seen. Although focused on long-term sustainable growth, the industry faces major challenges all of which must be addressed with technology. The simultaneous rise in big data, computing power, and a data-friendly workforce has enabled AI to take the role of the all-encompassing technological solution the industry needs. 

Brant Swidler is a Customer Success Manager at SparkCognition, an award-winning global leader in cognitive analytics. In this role, he handles project management of SparkCognition’s A.I. products for oil and gas clients, as well as business development and partnerships. To learn more about how your organization can use the power of AI and machine learning to bring cognitive efficiency to your business, please contact us at or visit

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