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Aramco leads the pack in oil and gas AI investments

Aramco rigs in the Hasbah oil field. It uses AI for oil exploration and underwater operations Aramco
Aramco rigs in the Hasbah oil field. It uses AI for oil exploration and underwater operations
  • Aramco uses AI for exploration
  • $3.5bn on research and development
  • 9 in 10 oil companies using AI

Saudi Aramco invested around $3.5 billion in research and development last year and leads in adopting artificial intelligence, as it rivals its regional peers in the adoption of new technology.

The world’s largest energy company was active in more than 250 areas, such as AI, drones, robotics, electric vehicles and hydrogen technology, a GlobalData report shows.

The oil and gas industry is looking to adopt new technology such as AI to boost production, optimise costs and maintenance, and improve threat detection, including cybersecurity, spills and leaks.

Sourabh Nyalkalkar, GlobalData practice head of innovation products, said Aramco is leading in using AI for oil exploration and underwater operations.

“A recently published patent application demonstrates this usage, describing the deployment of drones in sub-surface terrain to capture images,” he said. “These images are then analysed using machine learning algorithms to detect oil spills and pollutants.”

Aramco also uses AI and machine learning to automate seismic data processing and provide real-time updates for subsurface reservoir models. 

Professional services company EY estimates that more than 92 percent of oil and gas companies globally are “either currently investing in AI or plan to in the next two years”.

Future Market Insights estimates the value of AI in the oil and gas market will reach $13 billion by 2034.

Abu Dhabi state oil company Adnoc, BP and Shell are among early AI adopters, while TotalEnergies claims to have been using machine learning since the 1990s.

In 2020, Adnoc and G42 funded a data analytics business, AIQ, which provides AI solutions for the energy industry.

The UAE’s energy major has deployed more than 30 AI tools across its value chain, from field operations to corporate decision-making, in an effort to increase efficiency and productivity and support the ambition of reaching net zero by 2045.

Adnoc said it generated $500 million (AED1.84 billion) in extra value by using artificial intelligence solutions in 2023. 

Nyalkalkar added Aramco is betting on advanced technologies, too, and is closely monitoring the startup ecosystem: “It has invested in companies such as Pragmatic, which develops flexible semiconductor chips, and Sunrate, a fintech company.” 

Last year Aramco launched a digital innovation ecosystem named Saudi Accelerated Innovation Laboratory to partner with entities, including government agencies and startups, to foster the development of digital innovation products.

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