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AI everywhere, all the time

AI seems to be everywhere at the moment. Despite concerns about its impact, there is a clear sense it’s big – and going to be bigger.

Amid a slew of AI offerings, though, how can companies pull out what will make them more productive?

One company hoping to make an impact is United Arab Emirates-based AIQ. The company has been supporting Adnoc’s operations – with the Abu Dhabi-based NOC also a shareholder in AIQ.

Now, AIQ is working on ways to expand overseas. The company has developed 20 products and filed 16 patents. This year, it has filed two more patents and expects to file eight to 10 this year, company CEO Chris Cooper explained.

“Our main customer has been Adnoc,” Cooper said. In early May, Presight bought a 51% stake in the company. The deal saw Adnoc reduce its stake from 60% to 49%, although it also took a 4% stake in Presight.

The sale makes AIQ a “MENA unicorn” Cooper said, but it also gives the company a new outlook.

“Presight has some very strong relationships in the global marketplace, government to government. They really haven’t had a focus around energy. We will be, in effect, the energy arm of Presight on a global playing field.”

The aim, Cooper continued, is to take the tools built under its relationship with Adnoc and apply them globally. “We’ll assist in the global energy transition, leveraging AI solutions that focus on sustainability, health and safety, monitoring and capturing and reducing and eradicating emissions.”

AIQ supported Adnoc with the start up of its recent Belbazem field, using its AI solution, WellInsight.
AIQ supported Adnoc with the start up of its recent Belbazem field, using its AI solution, WellInsight.

Tooling up

AIQ trained its models on Adnoc data, with the NOC benefiting from the insights it has gained from such tools. In 2023, Adnoc said it created $500 million in value from the use of AI, including some from AIQ’s stable.

It noted Emission X, which predicts emission sources; SMARTi, which detects hazards; AR360, for visualising reservoirs; and Robowell, which remotely operates upstream equipment.

Cooper picked out Robowell as one example of what AIQ can do. It provides “autonomous control of the choke valves in the field”, he said. Robowell provides an alternative to sending a worker out to inspect a wellhead everyday.

“RoboWell allows for not just electronic control, but autonomous control. It allows the operator, in a control room, at a complete remote location, onshore, for example, to be able to autonomously control the choke valves,” he said. The mechanism provides a means to do small adjustments to the valve and reduces gas uplift.

AIQ has deployed Robowell on- and offshore. Cooper noted the company had worked with Halliburton and Honeywell to deliver the tool, which had an initial showing at the North East Bab field.

Initial results, Halliburton said, the AI tool led to a 30% reduction in gas lift and 50% reduction in well movement.

Data source

The AIQ executive noted the ways in which the company was working with other service providers. SLB, for instance, is working with AIQ on AR360.

“They’ve identified that we have unique IP and what we’ve built that they want to collaborate with us on, so we complement rather than compete.”

While the company built the AI tools using Adnoc data, that information stays locked within the NOC’s vaults. “If we want to take … one of the solutions we’ve built to customer X in country Y, we take the model, we don’t take the data.”

AIQ will then populate the tool with local data, in order to be able to respond to the different locations.

Adnoc has provided 300 petabytes of data to create the tools AIQ can offer. Cooper noted the importance of quality and the move beyond digital data to “unstructured” data, such as training manuals.

Local growth

The company has access to computing power owned by Core 42, a subsidiary of Group 42. The latter previously owned a 40% stake in AIQ. Group 42 has faced criticism this year, particularly from the US over concerns of Chinese involvement in AI.

Cooper noted the crucial local support for AIQ. “It’s not just the forward-thinking leadership of Adnoc that has developed AIQ, it’s the UAE government and leadership overall. The UAE wants to be the leading light in AI by 2031.”

The government was the first to appoint an AI minister, he noted, and has the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence.

Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence
Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence

“It allows us to build an ecosystem of top talent locally, but also it’s attracting top talent from outside the region into the UAE. Scientists are not necessarily looking for the biggest salaries and packages, they want to work on the biggest challenges, and for that, they need huge amounts of data. Having huge amounts of data inside Adnoc allows us to attract that top talent.”

Sultan Al Jaber, head of Adnoc, is also the chair of AIQ – and president of COP28. Cooper noted the opportunity that AIQ can offer in terms of tackling emissions.

Adnoc head Sultan Al Jaber, Adnoc CTO Sophie Hildebrand and AIQ CEO Chris Cooper meet US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in May
Adnoc head Sultan Al Jaber, Adnoc CTO Sophie Hildebrand and AIQ CEO Chris Cooper meet US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm during a visit to Abu Dhabi

Prediction

Emission X is a “greenhouse gas emissions monitoring tool. But it doesn’t just monitor, it actually forecasts and it’s a reporting solution.”

The tool looks at the history of potential emission sources. It then reports and predicts what emissions may occur from infrastructure.

Predictive analysis “tells you where to focus in, where are the most likely larger emissions coming from to give you an opportunity to go and investigate those resources and understand that infrastructure”.

The company’s technology is working on protecting and predictive maintenance, while minimising downtime. “We can give predictive analytics of every single component in the value chain of a petrochemical plant,” Cooper said. “From that, you can determine when a certain part needs to be replaced.”

It is in tying together all the aspects of AI that the true value emerges, the CEO said.

“It’s doing that at a well level, but also building solutions that work across clusters of wells that are attached to a reservoir. And when you build and integrate all those pieces in the value chain, that’s when it becomes really game changing.”

AIQ is working throughout the industry, he continued. “It’s not just about looking at individual components anymore. It’s the complete value chain.”

There has been some discussion around AI’s energy demands, with the additional computing power requiring additional resource. Cooper acknowledged there would be higher demand, but noted the progress that had been made.

“We’ve already built 20 solutions, so we’ve gone through that phase and now we’re scaling. In effect, that represents a saving, because we’ve built that already.”

While AI brings its own energy demands, the AIQ official said the move would go to “developing and delivering energy at lower emissions, with a better sustainability rate than what anyone else can – because we’re leveraging AI. It’s about AI for energy, energy for AI.”

Updated May 17 to correct UAE’s AI aspirations to 2031, rather than 2030.

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