HOUSTON—Amid all the digital technology talk about what the oil and gas industry should do and stop doing, the abundance of data but lack of use, and cultural change still needed to move the industry forward, Arun Subramaniyan showed how technology can be used to optimize well performance.

Speaking to attendees of Baker Hughes, a GE company’s (NYSE: BHGE) UNIFY 2018 event June 13 in Houston, Subramaniyan—the company’s vice president of data science and analytics—performed a live demonstration showing how a digital twin of a well in a field and artificial intelligence was used to pinpoint a calibration issue, which when solved help to optimize production.

In a matter of five or six minutes, he went through three several scenarios—each of which would have taken three or four engineers a couple of weeks to do.

“Imagine the power of tools like these,” he said, later showing how the technology can be used to run multiwell optimization on a cluster of wells in 20 seconds—1,000 times faster than what’s available on the market today. “It’s not about a specific model or specific optimization that you want to have; it’s about opening the possibilities,” and enabling scalability—demonstrating how the same technology can be put to use for optimization at the field level with 500 wells.

Bringing digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and digital twin models to the oil patch has moved digital technologies higher on the agendas of energy companies. The search for insight that could lead to operational improvements and other value additions—capitalizing on the abundance of data generated from oilfield equipment sensors and seismic, for starters—has become a priority as the industry plays catch up to other sectors.

BHGE earlier this year teamed up with Nvidia to use AI to help optimize production and GPU-accelerated computing to analyze data such as pump pressures and flow rates that can give insight into possible problems. The oilfield service company—like many of its peers—also has teamed up with technology leaders such as Google Cloud, Microsoft, Accenture and KBC to merge the energy and digital technology worlds and uncover fit-for-purpose solutions for the oil and gas industry’s challenges.

During the digital-focused event, billed by BHGE as an event for and by practitioners, the company spotlighted some of its digital products such as JewelSuite, a reservoir and well modeling software that is used by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, and Intellistream, an AI-driven production optimization offering.

“Technology is no longer the bottleneck; it is the enabler,” said Matthias Heilmann, president and CEO of digital solutions for BHGE. “If you start with the outcome you’ll see the benefit right in front of you.”

However, the industry is still not using all of the data it has, according to Darryl Willis, vice president of oil, gas and energy for Google Cloud.

“Unfortunately it is estimated that we only use about 5% of the data that we have at our disposal,” Willis said. “It is time that we do better. … Our challenge is the oil and gas industry is to not overstudy the problem or opportunity.

He later added, “if you use your data, you win. If you don’t its very simple, you lose.”

But getting there is may seem daunting given silos and different systems used. Paula Doyle, director of customer success at Cognite, suggested breaking down silos by decoupling applications from source systems, eliminating the need to do point to point integration and expanding access to data. The company contextualizes all types of data on its platform. The company is working with Aker BP, streaming 800,000 data points from its operations.

Torbjørn Folgerø, chief digital officer for Equinor, was also among the speakers. The company is betting on digitalization to help it not only improve safety and reduce its carbon footprint of its operations, but also increase its revenue by $2 billion, reduce offshore drilling costs by about 15% and lower future investment by about 30% compared to traditional oil and gas development among other goals.

BHGE CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said 80% of all of the Internet of Things deployments that will take place will be specific to certain problems. He pointed out that many companies are looking at nonproductive time, asset performance management and production optimization. But as other speakers pointed out, Simonelli said it is time to move beyond proof of concept.

“We can all agree that we’ve reached the stage of maturity that now we’re looking at this being real and being tangible,” he said. “We’re starting to see real examples out there of how fit-for-purpose digital solutions can really derive value to the bottom line. That’s really important for us as we go forward because what we’re looking to do is bring the domain experience with software.”

He stressed the importance of moving past concepts by moving into real applications, pointing out areas where the company has already seen the benefits of digital technologies with artificial lift and gas turbines.

“Everybody is talking about how can you drive the cost per barrel. This is probably the biggest area of opportunity we have as we go forward to start to drive the digital application, the knowledge base and productivity for better outcomes,” Simonelli said.

Velda Addison can be reached at vaddison@hartenergy.com.