BP Tank Station At Weesp The Netherlands 2018

BP pumps $5m into AI start-up to help boost hunt for oil and gas

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BP has invested $5m in an artificial intelligence (AI) firm in a bid to bolster its “digital capabilities” for its activities around oil and natural gas exploration.

BP Ventures, the multinational oil and gas giant’s specialist venture capital fund set up in 2004, made the investment in Belmont Technology, a Houston-based artificial intelligence start-up.

BP aims to explore opportunities to apply machine learning and “cognitive computing” in its global oil and gas business, with a focus on its Upstream work, which involves activities in “oil and natural gas exploration, field development and production”.

With such aspirations, it is hoped the investment will allow BP Ventures to leverage Belmont Technology’s AI cloud-based geoscience platform which aims to accelerate lifecycle projections, from exploration to reservoir modelling.

BP group head of technology David Eyton said: “This investment helps drive forward our digital strategy and further underpins our Upstream operations with cutting-edge technology.”

In a statement, BP noted the technology would target “a 90 per cent time reduction in data, collection, interpretation and simulation”.

Furthermore, the investment will support the development of BP’s own AI platform and to speed up the release of Belmont Technology’s AI platform, dubbed ‘Sandy’.

“This AI-based platform, which we’ve nicknamed Sandy, is expected to unlock critical data for our subsurface engineers at a much-accelerated pace,” Eyton added. “Our experts will ask it questions about our reservoirs like, “What factors control production in the Chirag field?”

“Sandy will then interpret our data including mapping out many more scenarios than are currently constructed, helping us make faster, better-informed Upstream decisions.”

Furthermore, the technology also makes use of neural networks to perform simulations of BP’s various projects, to coincide with the company’s aim of finding ways to accelerate project timeframes.

Belmont Technology’s chief executive Jean-Marie Laigle said: “We are excited by the prospect of deploying a cutting-edge cognitive AI solution within BP.

“Our technology enables real-time thinking for subsurface engineers, helping transform the way teams work, analyse data, understand situations and generate novel ideas.”

In the announcement of the investment, BP claimed that its latest venture into AI development would play a role in the company’s strategy to tackle the “dual challenge of meeting the world's need for more energy, while at the same time reducing carbon emissions”.

In June last year, the petrol giant agreed to buy Chargemaster, the operator of the UK’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging network, in hopes to diversify the types of vehicle that can refuel at its garages.

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