• Monday, July 22, 2024
businessday logo


Why digital technologies will play huge role in the future of oil and gas – Dada

Why digital technologies will play huge role in the future of oil and gas – Dada

Yemi Dada is a highly motivated Earth scientist with vast experience working for major operators in the oil and gas sector for over 12 years. His experience spans leading cross-functional teams towards deployment of value-adding projects and products and he is highly skilled in seismic interpretation, attribute analysis, structural mapping, stratigraphy and conceptual depositional environment modeling, prospect generation, base production optimisation, and reporting, integrated reservoir management, hydrocarbon resources evaluation, development well planning and execution. In this interview with ZEBULON AGOMUO, he spoke about the advantages of Big Data, Cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence in today’s well drilling, completions, development, and reservoir management. Excerpts:

Could you please tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Yemi Dada, I am a Digital Solutions Earth Modeler with an oil and gas firm in Nigeria. I have a bachelor’s degree in Geology from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and a master’s degree in Data Science with Business Analytics Specialisation from Rice University, Houston Texas.

My experience in the upstream oil and gas industry spans about 12 years. My specialty includes field development planning and new drill opportunity identification, maturation, and execution.I grew in responsibility to manage several field development and new drill projects.

I am also skilled in building 3D subsurface models of reservoirs, replicating the architecture and plumbing, computing reservoir volumetrics, and identifying the new well development where necessary.I have also been trained to use artificial Intelligence and data science skillset to synthesise my existing geologic knowledge towards intelligent reservoir characterisation and oil field development endeavors.

In the last decade, I have played a key role in contributing to the daily oil production output of Nigeria and as well as hydrocarbon reserves addition and replacement. Asides from being a geoscientist, I am also a budding technical writer, I have co-authored technical publications on OnePetro and ResearchGate, and written a couple of articles on varying digital topics onmy personal blog via medium.com.

Could you please take us through your work as an Earth Scientist with specialisation in Field development planning, new drill opportunity maturation and execution, machine learning, statistical model optimisation, data science, cloud computing and project management?

As a development geoscientist, I take geologic understanding of the field and incorporate production data, petrophysical data, seismic mapping, and hydrocarbon volumetrics to recommend and build strategic development plans for different reservoirs within a field via new drills, infill drills and non-rig well intervention operations.

Also, I actively participate in the drilling and monitoring of new wells within my assigned area. Currently, as a Digital Solutions Earth modeler, my work entails integrating machine learning and artificial intelligence into reservoir characterization, developing robust geostatistical earth models, probabilistic reservoir volume estimation, reserves estimation, field development opportunity assessment, risk and uncertainty assessment and mitigation planning to optimise asset value.

What is the biggest project you have delivered? What was the feeling after delivering such project?

Most of my projects are subsets to much larger multi-billion-dollar major capital projects, example is being among the cross-functional team handling the maturation and execution of wells that were part of a major new drill development campaign in the Niger Delta region. These projects are unique in their own way, and it’s hard to say which is the biggest, but delivering them was rewarding and fulfilling.

The oil industry has been one saddled with lots of job cuts due to fluctuations in oil price, and financing challenges that may hinder upstream investment. During the Covid pandemic, oil prices were negatively impacted and many jobs were lost, yet you have thrived 10 years in the industry; how have you been able to stay motivated and successful amid such lowjob security and cuts?

Thank you for this question. One way I keep myself motivated is by continuously finding innovative ways to add value to the business. My profession is very technical and mentally demanding, continuous knowledge seeking is very critical to becoming successful, so a way I do that is by simply doing extra readings and research via available booksand technical papers, attending technical presentations in professional conferences, presenting technical papers as well as facilitate training sessions when given the opportunity.

I work in cross-functional teams comprising of drilling engineers, petroleum engineers, reservoir engineers, decision analysts etc., so I also put in the extra effort to study and build fluency and breadth in those domains, to be able to converse with them in a way that helps project objectives delivery.

Due to my quest for innovation, I delved into python programming to automate some mundane workflows in my day to day, this gave me the opportunity to be selected to go for a fully funded Master’s in Data Science programme at Rice University. In a nutshell, the quest for technical excellence has kept me going.

Looking through your CV, you appear to be a ‘highly tech’ person, what are the advantages of Big Data, Cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence in today’s well drilling, completions, development, and reservoir management?

The operations you just mentioned are quite capital-intensive and very risky, hundreds of millions to billions of dollars are invested to safely drill and produce fossil fuels.

With limited human resources, increasingly complex geology, and stricter environmental and climatic policies, AI, Big data and cloud computing are the best complimentary tools required to improve decision-making, reduce operational expenses and improve returns with limited safety incidents.

I said complimentary because functional domain knowledge is still required to make the best out of these technologies. Only a fraction of the vast amount of data available for oil and gas exploration and production is used in decision-making. Big data and AI presents an opportunity to utilise these huge troves of data for improved operational efficiency and workflow optimisation.

Companies have shown commitment and started taking proactive steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their operations. One way they are doing this is through Cloud computing.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform to mention a few, are today’s “Airbnb” for computational power and data storage. Readily available, highly scalable, and pay-as-you-use compute infrastructure offered by these cloud companies eliminate the use of on-site large data centers, this rapidly drives down cost, lowers carbon footprint, accelerates innovation, and facilitates the rapid prototyping and deployment of business-enabling applications.

Artificial Intelligence on the other hand, can be utilised in predicting future carbon emissions based on carbon footprint data, and extracting insights into how emissions can be reduced, stored, and utilised.

The time it takes for drilling engineers, petroleum engineers, and geoscientists to search for well drilling records, seismic data, core data, production data, etc. can be reduced with computer vision and natural language processing solutions.

Machine learning can be employed to accelerate and optimize reservoir characterization workflows. Artificial Intelligence is currently being used by geoscientists to identify bypassed oil zones in producing fieldsIndustrial Internet of Things is being used today for flow monitoring in oil pipelines, bottleneck identification and predictive maintenance.

These are just a few applicable examples, I wrote an article on this topic you can find it in this link Digital technologies transforming the Upstream Oil and Gas landscape | by Yemi Dada | Medium.

How has technology and innovation contributed to cost control, contract management, efficient well drilling operations and production optimisations? Share your experience in relation to Pre and Post-COVID times.

Technology and Innovation have long proven to be major catalysts for growth in the upstream oil and gas industry. Pre-COVID, the industry has always been on a progressive path towards technology implementation and innovation. The COVID pandemic necessitated the accelerated investment, adoption, and implementation of new technologies, and brought about innovative ways to optimise oil and gas operations for sustainability and growth.

The traditional structure and multi-layered hierarchical operational model are being modified into more agile models involving cross-functional teams that can quickly strategise, modify processes, and orchestrate new technology adoption via product delivery for better operational efficiency and improved returns. Agile project delivery has proven to be effective in production optimization efforts, improved maintenance cycle time, etc.

What would you term the biggest drawback of geoscientists in Africa, if any?

I would say, lack of awareness, exposure, and career opportunities for growth. I am kind of saying the same thing, because without awareness there won’t be exposure and without exposure, there won’t be opportunities for growth. Information is power, on the part of the young aspiring geoscientist, gaining access to information that will provide more knowledge to his or her skills in the profession is critical to success.

And in turn this can position the geoscientist to be better placed for selection during job recruitment programs. Professional bodies like Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE), Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), American Association of Petroleum Geologist (AAPG) have played a key role in bridging the gap between the industry and the professionals, serving as conduits for information on career opportunities, research opportunities and educational grants.

Over the years, organisations have sponsored a fair amount of geoscientists and engineers to advanced degrees outside the shores of Nigeria. I still believe there is opportunity for more to be done, and hopeful that those opportunities will be more readily available in the near future.

What does the future hold for geoscientists in the industry as it shifts towards energy transition? And what will you advise younger generation of geoscientists coming after you?

The future is still quite promising for geoscientists in the industry. Intelligent geoscientists that are ahead of their time will bein demand to explore innovative ways to extract oil out of complex reservoirs while keeping carbon intensity low, improving returns, and operating safely.

As we have discussed, digital technologies will play a huge role in the future of oil and gas, therefore it is imperative for geoscientists to position themselves for future job opportunities by consolidating their domain knowledge with relevant digital and agile skillssuch as data science, cloud computing, DevOps, Scrum, Product management etc. Advanced degrees in geothermal engineering, geochemistry, and hydrogeology to mention a few are good-to-haves as energy transition or the drive for alternative energy is gradually becoming a reality.

Like in many other science professions, there is a dearth of skilled manpower, geoscientists and geophysicists in Deep Water, Cost Completions Engineering, especially in Africa. How do you think this can be mitigated?

In my opinion there are lots of brilliant geoscientists out there seeking various growth opportunities within the oil industry, be it internships, contracts, research, or employment opportunities. Without these opportunities, training and skills cannot be transferred from the few experienced to the inexperienced.

And these opportunities can come when there are favorable policies for major investments within the continent. So, more investmentsthrough favorable policies areimportantin mitigating the dearth in experienced professionals in the industry and in also filling the knowledge gap within the industry.

Read also: How APM Terminals is digitalising port operations in Nigeria

Are you involved in any form of mentorship of young people, whether in Africa or abroad as a way of giving back to society? What is the focus of this mentoring program? How structured is it?

Throughout my career, I have had opportunities to mentor the younger folks either through work or through professional associations. At work I have had to draw up mentoring workplans for my interns based on their strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

It is a very rewarding experience seeing these interns go out to get employment or further their education with advanced degrees in foreign universities through research grants and scholarships. I was recognised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers(SPE) in 2017 as a member of its league of volunteers, for sharing knowledge to young scholars about my role in the oil and gas industry.

Another way I am also mentoring is via LinkedIn and my personal blog on medium.com, where I share my thoughts on earth science, data science and digital applications in oil and gas. Younger folks reach out to me to learn more about these topics and how to position themselves for a rewarding career in the industry.

What’s your family life like? We know it could be quite a bit of a challenge for people in your profession, especially when you must be on a project for a long time.

Family is my happy place. I have a very small and closely knit family, and they have been a major pillar of support and have shown understanding and patience to my demanding work schedule. The least I can do to show appreciation is to devote quality time to them at every opportunity I get. Coming home to a supportive family after a long and stressful workday is a blessing.

How rewarding is your job giving the commitment level involved?

I would say it is rewarding enough to take care of family, live a comfortable and content life.

How do you relax, when you are not thinking of field development, well maturation and earth modeling?

One of my forms of “relaxation” is fitness, either by working out at the gym, going to a boxing class, or playing football. It reinvigorates my mind and just keeps me fit and makes me feel healthy. Another is by listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and painting. Even though I don’t get much time as I would like to for painting. Currently, I am learning how to play golf.