Artificial Intelligence helps Exploration at Wintershall Dea

Finger tipping on a tablet
Finger tipping on a tablet
Wintershall Dea
  • Company rolls-out Exploration Advisory Tool, a cognitive search engine jointly developed with IBM
  • Tool speeds up, improves exploration process
  • Part of Wintershall Dea’s wider investment in digital transformation

Europe’s leading independent gas and oil company Wintershall Dea will strengthen its exploration processes with the roll-out of an artificial intelligence search engine. The Exploration Advisory Tool, developed in partnership with IBM, uses the latest cognitive search technology to give Wintershall Dea’s explorationists quick and easy access to relevant subsurface information.

Understanding the earth‘s subsurface is a complex but critical task when competing for new exploration areas. The artificial-intelligence-powered Exploration Advisory Tool improves and speeds-up knowledge discovery by extracting information from unstructured data like reports or presentations. Unlike a simple keyword search, the tool ‘thinks’ like a geologist, understanding and extracting information related to concepts like ‘formation’ or ‘reservoir’. In doing so, it saves Wintershall Dea’s explorationists significant time spent manually searching for data.

In the gas and oil industry, time is an important value driver. It can take up to 10 years from the acquisition of new licenses to first production. "Artificial intelligence can help us make better decisions about expected gas and oil volumes in the early stages of the value chain," says Hugo Dijkgraaf, Chief Technology Officer at Wintershall Dea. “Digital transformation at Wintershall Dea is about enhancing competitiveness and reducing risk. The roll-out of the Exploration Advisory Tool does exactly that, by enabling better and faster decision making. Importantly, it will free up our experienced team to spend more time on the tasks where they add most value.”

Wintershall Dea geoscientists worked side-by-side with IBM researchers and data scientists in an IBM Garage that used design thinking to drive innovation. Stefan Mueck, CTO Cognitive Transformation, IBM says: “The IBM Garage approach was a key success factor for this innovation project. It is a transformation accelerator that brought together an empowered, agile and multi-disciplinary team. And it kept the focus on end users’ needs while building a solution based on leading edge AI technology.”

The tool was successfully piloted in 2020 and will now be rolled out across Wintershall Dea’s global exploration teams during 2021. The company expects its exploration colleagues will save considerable time by using the tool. Wintershall Dea is developing and scaling-up a group of digital solutions, including the Exploration Advisory Tool, that can have the highest impact measured by gains in safety, sustainability, operational and financial performance.

About Wintershall Dea

Wintershall Dea is Europe’s leading independent natural gas and oil company with more than 120 years of experience as an operator and project partner along the entire E&P value chain. The company with German roots and headquarters in Kassel and Hamburg explores for and produces gas and oil in 13 countries worldwide in an efficient and responsible manner. With activities in Europe, Russia, Latin America and the MENA region (Middle East & North Africa), Wintershall Dea has a global upstream portfolio and, with its participation in natural gas transport, is also active in the midstream business.

Wintershall Dea was formed from the merger of Wintershall Holding GmbH and DEA Deutsche Erdoel AG, in 2019. Today, the company employs around 2,500 people worldwide from over 60 nations.

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