How algorithms are taking over Big Oil

For generations, the oil industry has offered extremely well-paid work to men and women willing to endure tough conditions and long hours (often) away from home.

But this report in Forbes shows how that is under threat, today:

Artificial intelligence has come to the oil patch, accelerating a technical change that is transforming the conditions for the oil and gas industry’s 150,000 U.S. workers. Giant energy companies like Shell and BP are investing billions to bring artificial intelligence to new refineries, oilfields and deepwater drilling platforms. Already, these investments are paying for themselves by helping drill tricky oil wells faster, predict equipment failures and slash fugitive methane emissions.

The algorithmically-enhanced oil fields are, according to BP, producing 10% more “work”* with 43% less employee input. It’s also safer for both man and environment. Faced with that, it’s hard to make the case against this kind of innovation – but, again, where will those workers go instead?

*The Forbes report doesn’t specify what it means by “work”, per se. Let’s just say BP is enjoying significant efficiency gains.