• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Saudi Aramco, ADNOC are betting on AI. Is NNPC aware?

The world is prepping for an oil and gas industry where completely unmanned assets are operated, inspected and maintained with digitisation and artificial intelligence (AI), a message Africa’s biggest oil-producing country is yet to come to terms with.

Faced with a growing gospel of renewable energy, the oil and gas industry is increasingly embracing digital tools such as machine learning and AI to improve its efficiency in producing, transporting and selling its products, and to help the industry reduce its overall carbon footprint.

According to a new report published by GlobalData, a UK-based Data and Analytics Company, Saudi Aramco is spearheading innovations by embracing cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, both within its core operations and beyond, which places the company ahead of the curve.

GlobalData said the Saudi state-owned oil company has significantly invested in research and development compared to its industry peers, allocating approximately 3.5 USD billion in 2023, representing a 15 percent annual increase despite global challenges.

Read also: Saudi Aramco’s $97.8bn dividend payment raises questions for NNPC

“The innovation leadership map reveals how the company is employing AI in its core operations and selectively prioritizing the adoption of AI innovations in specific areas of its business. For instance, utilizing AI for oil exploration and underwater operations is a significant strategic focus where the company holds a strong leadership position,” explained Sourabh Nyalkalkar, head of innovation products at GlobalData.

GlobalData highlighted in the release that its Technology Foresight platform identified over 250 areas of innovation involving Aramco, “spanning technologies poised to disrupt the oil and gas sector, such as AI, drones, robotics, electric vehicles (EVs), and hydrogen technology”.

“A recently published patent application demonstrates this usage, describing the deployment of drones in sub-surface terrain to capture images. These images are then analyzed using machine learning algorithms to detect oil spills and pollutants. Another application showcases the use of AI/ML for automating seismic data processing and providing real-time updates for sub-surface reservoir models,” Nyalkalkar said.

Additionally, Aramco has internally developed cybersecurity capabilities to safeguard against cyber threats encountered in recent years, GlobalData pointed out in the release.

“The oil and gas industry is confronted with an array of disruptive challenges, which stem from rising energy demands, frequent threats to the supply chain, geopolitical tensions, and the transition to alternative and sustainable fuel sources,” GlobalData noted in the release.

“In response to these pressures, there is a compelling need to fervently embrace innovation. Leading this charge is Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil production company,” it added.

“Aramco is spearheading the innovations by embracing cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, both within its core operations and beyond, which places the company ahead of the curve,” it continued.

In the release, GlobalData said Aramco has significantly invested in research and development compared to its industry peers, “allocating approximately $3.5 billion in 2023, representing a 15 percent annual increase despite global challenges”.

Apart from Aramco, Abu Dhabi energy company, Adnoc generated $500 million by using artificial intelligence solutions last year, as it boosts efforts to increase adoption of the technology.

This resulted from the integration of more than 30 AI tools across the energy company’s full value chain, from field operations to corporate decision-making, Adnoc said on Sunday.

The applications also abated up to one million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions between 2022 and 2023, the equivalent of removing about 200,000 petrol-powered cars from the road.

“[AI] is one of the most important economic and social game changers of our era and it can play a crucial role in accelerating a just, orderly and equitable energy transition,” said Sultan Al Jaber, managing director and group chief executive of Adnoc.

“At Adnoc, we have integrated artificial intelligence across our operations, from the control room to the boardroom, and it is enabling us to make smarter decisions and better protect our people and the environment.”

A 2022 research paper by the World Economic Forum and Accenture showed that digitalisation could add $1.6 trillion to $2.5 trillion to the oil and gas industry in the next decade.

The market for AI technologies globally is projected to grow to $1.8 trillion by 2030 from $200 billion last year, according to Statista.

As the rest of the world moves on with artificial intelligence and innovation, Nigeria remains uncertain about how to proceed with old perennial problems such as with sub-optimal oil production, poor infrastructure, and fuel subsidies.

Critics say Nigeria’s energy sector focuses solely on revenue generation and does not look at domesticating the value chain of by-products that are needed to boost productivity and more revenue in the long run, in the process a lot of investments have been discouraged.