3) Put people first
Involving employees at the inception of the AI journey will help align expectations with business objectives.
AI might intimidate some workers if they’re not aware of the way it could positively redesign their overall work experience. In the explorations and production space, machine learning could transform the data analysis underpinning things like valve positioning, pressure levels or even pump speeds. Replacing that time-consuming work with AI means workers get more time to focus on rewarding and value-added tasks.
Specifically, for upstream workers such as drillers, AI and the information it provides can give a greater understanding of the subsurface environment they operate in. This insight means quicker drilling campaigns that aren’t slowed down by wear and tear, and machine breakdown. It also means less aggravation or frustration when teams are working with tight schedules.
Safety is another issue that can unite workers around AI. From upstream to downstream, safety shapes every decision and process. The industry is already working on a number of technologies, including autonomous robots, to take over complex actions on offshore assets. These indirectly improve employee safety by reducing the need for human actions in challenging environments.
But that’s just a start. Machine learning and AI also has strong potential to support safety-critical systems. The challenge, though, is actually capturing the data, since major incidents in the oil and gas industry are rare. Still, that analytical gap could be filled with systems powered by a combination of data-driven models and the real-life insight and expertise of veteran safety workers.
Looking to the beyond
The oil and gas industry is still at the start of its digital journey. While it considers what’s needed to get up to speed now to deal with what’s next for the industry, leadership should bear in mind that AI is bound to transform how energy is produced, transported and refined. But looking beyond these immediate changes, AI could unlock new opportunities for the industry and its people.
Still, for the industry to fully realize the benefits of AI, it can’t turn its back on the concerns the technology raises. And that’s where clear business cases and strong senior management support have a vital role to play. They don’t have to be AI specialists or digital natives, but they do have to know enough to educate their workers on the benefits and opportunities AI will help tap into – for personal as well as business growth.