IBM, Repsol Team to Deliver Cognitive Solutions for the Oil Industry

IBM and Repsol have joined forces to help with oil and gas exploration by delivering new cognitive computing applications.

IBM big data

IBM and Repsol S.A., a Spanish integrated oil and gas company, recently announced a new research collaboration to leverage cognitive technologies that will help transform the oil and gas industry.

IBM and Repsol are jointly developing two prototype cognitive applications designed to augment Repsol’s strategic decision making in the optimization of oil reservoir production and in the acquisition of new oil fields.

The companies will use IBM’s Cognitive Environments Laboratory (CEL) to jointly develop and apply new prototype cognitive tools for real-world use cases in the oil and gas industry. Cognitive computing software agents, known as “cogs,” and other technologies will be designed to collaborate with human experts in more natural ways, learn through interaction, and enable individuals and teams to make better decisions by overcoming cognitive limitations posed by big data.

Scientists in the CEL will also be able to experiment with a combination of traditional and new interfaces based upon spoken dialog, gesture, robotics and advanced visualization and navigation techniques, IBM said. Through these modalities, they will be able to learn and leverage sophisticated models of human characteristics, preferences and biases that may be present in the decision-making process.

For example, an engineer evaluating what new oil fields to acquire will typically have to manually read through an enormous set of journal papers and baseline reports with seismic imaging data and models of reservoir, well, facilities, production and export. Cognitive technologies can quickly help by analyzing hundreds of thousands of papers and reports, prioritize and link that data to the specific decision at hand, and introduce new real-time factors to be considered such as current news events around economic instability, political unrest and natural disasters. Using the research tools in the CEL, the engineer along with key stakeholders can more fluidly build conceptual and geological models, highlight the impact of the potential risks and uncertainty, visualize trade-offs, and explore what-if scenarios to ensure the best decision is made, IBM said.

The oil and gas industry boasts some of the most advanced geological, geophysical and chemical science in the world. However, with the explosion of big data and emerging science, the discovery, mining, integration and interpretation of this data, together with critical geopolitical, economic and other global news, require a whole new approach to computing that can speed access to business insights, enhance strategic decision-making and drive productivity.

The two prototype applications that will be jointly developed by IBM and Repsol will leverage cognitive computing capabilities to specifically help Repsol reduce the risk and uncertainty of future oil field acquisitions and maximize the yield of existing oil fields – both of which can have a significant impact on the efficiency and efficacy of the global operations of Repsol and all oil and gas companies, the company said.

“Repsol’s technological research and applications have already helped us significantly improve the way we visualize and develop oil and gas fields, and this latest collaboration with IBM opens up a whole world of new possibilities,” said Santiago Quesada Garmendia, director of exploration and production technology for Repsol, in a statement. “We are convinced that the seamless blending of technology and talent will be the key driver for the industry in the 21st Century, where efficient management of resources is paramount.”

IBM has made major strides in the cognitive computing field with its Watson cognitive computing system, which is now fueling cognitive applications in the medical, financial service, travel, customer service and other industries. Cognitive environments can look and feel very different--from board rooms in the workplace, to cars, to homes, to mobile devices, but by being connected to one another they will enable human-computer collaboration at “the speed of thought,” leading to more informed and robust decision-making.

“In the field of oil and gas, a deeply interactive and significantly more collaborative cognitive environment enables geologists, geophysicists, petrochemical engineers, economists, planners, and developers to come together in a single environment that leverages their individual and unique skills, tools and applications,” said Dario Gil, director of the Cognitive Environments Lab at IBM Research, in a statement. “Cognitive environments can enhance the collective intelligence of the group and influence the direction of strategic decisions for better outcomes, which for Repsol will be optimizing reservoir production or enhancing the decision-making process for the acquisition of new oil fields.”