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February 25, 2019

Fracking in the Cloud: Exxon Pins Hopes on Azure to Optimise O&G Operations

"The unconventional business is fast moving, complex and data rich"

By CBR Staff Writer

ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy says it has agreed a major new contract with Microsoft for cloud-powered data analytics that will support drilling optimisation, well completions and leak detection across its Permian Basin acreage in the southwestern United States, boosting productivity and cutting emissions.

XTO’s 1.6 million-plus acres in the unconventional play represent the oil and gas (O&G) industry’s largest acreage position using cloud technology, the company said. The deal is anticipated to improve capital efficiency and support production growth of 50,000-plus barrels of oil-equivalent per day by 2025.

The O&G industry, with its extensive reliance on large data sets, wealth of distributed equipment and exposure to volatile commodity prices, is one of the industries most primed for digitalisation and to tap cloud-based services – and ExxonMobil is not alone in beginning to funnel data to the cloud.

US independent Anadarko in December said it was migrating its exploration and production (E&P) models, applications and platforms to Google Cloud.

See also: Anadarko Migrates E&P Models to Google Cloud, Eyes Real Time Drilling Insight

As Darryl Willis, Vice President, Energy, Google Cloud put itSince early 2018 [Anadarko have] been streaming all rig and completion crews data into a GCP tenant. They’re now deploying process analytics models and allowing real-time data analysis from onshore and offshore facilities, which lets them predict—and ideally avoid—unplanned shutdowns.”

For XTO, Microsoft’s platforms, including Azure Data Lake, will enable ExxonMobil to rapidly incorporate third-party solutions at scale across the Permian, the two said. Examples include mobile field data apps to optimize well performance, and AI algorithms for analyzing drilling and completions data to improve performance.

“Digital technology is a fundamental enabler for our Permian development,” said Staale Gjervik, senior vice president, Permian Integrated Development for XTO.

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“Collaboration with Microsoft is key to our future development efforts, which include predictive maintenance capacities, innovative tools for employees, and artificial intelligence and machine learning integration. The unconventional [oil and gas] business is fast moving, complex and data rich, which makes it well suited for the application of digital technologies to strengthen our operations and help deliver greater value.”

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