To continuously meet rising energy demand efficiently and reliably, Aramco is accelerating its digital transformation by tapping Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies.

Located in the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center at Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, the Upstream Innovation Center (UIC) provides an immersive environment to harness the power of 4IR. This is made possible with cutting-edge technologies that enable engineers and geoscientists to optimize development plans, devise optimal well trajectories, manage water production and reduce carbon emissions. In addition, the center provides upstream professionals with predictive capabilities that ensure prudent and long-term reservoir management strategies.

All of these efforts consequently translate to maximizing discovery and recovery, ensuring reliability and safety, while helping to reduce costs and emissions. The company recently announced its ambition towards achieving net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions across its wholly-owned operated assets by 2050.

The UIC capitalizes on artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data analytics, high-performance computing and immersive visualization to tackle various complex business challenges. The center also serves as a creativity hub that fosters collaboration between multidisciplinary teams of geoscientists, petroleum engineers, data scientists and computer scientists, reshaping the way hydrocarbons are discovered and recovered.

(Source: Saudi Aramco)

A paradigm shift 

The Aramco Intelligent Virtual Assistant—the UIC’s digital assistant—is the center’s brain.

It capitalizes on Natural Language Processing and Advanced Cognitive Capabilities to harness hundreds of billions of data points gathered over 90 years, with AI capabilities that allow for instantaneous analysis of real-time data to provide intelligent advisories for optimal operational efficiency.

As a result, the Aramco Intelligent Virtual Assistant enables professionals not only to find information instantly, while reducing associated turnaround time, but most importantly it provides insights for more informed decisions. Its cognitive capabilities push the boundary of expectations and open a world of infinite possibilities and limitless opportunities.

Solving business challenges 

The UIC’s suite of technologies allows for improving operational efficiency, creating more business value, and enhancing safety by capitalizing on subsurface excellence and the latest advancements in AI. These technologies facilitate predictions and optimize processes by assessing risks, evaluating performance, and boosting productivity. Using AI, production profiles can be adjusted instantaneously to accommodate volatility in the energy market and meet global energy demand. Additionally, updating Earth models, a process which takes months using conventional means, can now be updated in real-time through deep learning applications.

In line with Aramco’s sustainability ambitions, UIC technologies are tapping on machine learning to maximize the value of its sustainability practices, while minimizing the environmental impact of its operations.

Aramco is leveraging the use of data-driven tools to increase insights and sharpen decision-making across the company and supply chain, which ultimately serve to optimize operations, minimize water production and adopt efficient project designs.

Future digital workspace

The UIC is designed with several functional zones: a technology zone, two ideation areas and three collaboration sections.

(Source: Saudi Aramco)

The technology zone houses numerous immersive visualization technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality and holographic displays. These technologies allow geoscientists and engineers to visualize and analyze geological and reservoir models. This is in addition to capitalizing on AI to optimize field development plans and further enhance decision making.

The ideation and collaboration zones are equipped with interactive displays and smartboards to facilitate collaboration between teams. The center is also equipped with a 240-degree curved video wall with a combined resolution of 80 million pixels, coupling high computational power with ultra-high-resolution imaging. These technologies enable optimizing field development plans that help Aramco maximize oil recovery and reduce water production and carbon emissions.

Reshaping the oil and gas industry 

The UIC is a powerful demonstration of how 4IR technologies can empower Saudi Aramco to produce energy efficiently and sustainably while addressing industry challenges.

In addition, the UIC enables Aramco to accelerate its digital transformation by creating synergy between technological and human potential to spark innovation and foster multidisciplinary collaboration.

It will be a combination of technology and talent that will enable Saudi Aramco to achieve its ambition of reaching operational net-zero emissions by 2050. Aramco is continuously investing in the development of innovative technologies to maintain its position among the world’s leading digitalized energy corporations, maximizing shareholder value and spearheading digital innovation in energy globally.