Halliburton-Microsoft Strategic Alliance Hopes To Speed Industry Transformation

Halliburton and Microsoft believe that by working together they can step up the pace of digital transformation across the E&P industry.

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A recently formed strategic alliance between Halliburton and Microsoft hopes to speed the digital transformation of the oil and gas industry. Jointly announced by the companies last month, the partnership aims to leverage artificial intelligence (AI), internet cloud applications, and other breakthrough technologies to drive efficiency improvements and enhance value across exploration and production (E&P) operations.

“Halliburton is at the forefront of the digital transformation occurring in the E&P industry,” said Nagaraj Srinivasan, senior vice president of Landmark and Halliburton Digital Solutions. “We believe open architecture and community-based innovation are necessary to drive this fundamental change and we’re proud to work closely with an industry leader like Microsoft to deliver tailored E&P digital business solutions to our customers across the globe.”

Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, the company’s suite of business cloud services, said, “Halliburton is focused on delivering intelligent cloud solutions to drive the next generation of efficient oil and gas exploration and production. We are excited to bring the power of Azure’s hyperscale, hybrid, and global cloud-platform technologies to this alliance to enhance the value chain for our mutual customers.”

Leverage and Optimize

Researchers and engineers from both companies will leverage and optimize Microsoft technologies in machine learning (ML), augmented reality (AR), user interactions, and industrial Internet of Things (IoT), as well as Azure’s high-performance infrastructure and built-in computing capabilities to deliver tightly integrated solutions across the energy value chain.

Areas of collaboration include: applying deep learning to reservoir characterization, modeling and simulation, building domain-specific visualization for mixed reality, creating highly interactive applications, and fueling the digitalization of E&P assets.

“We just can’t do the whole digitalization, or digital transformation, alone,” said Chandra Yeleshwarapu, senior director of research and development and head of global services at Halliburton Landmark. With the company’s focus on digital technology innovation involving IoT; ML; the cloud and mixed reality, which uses AR and virtual reality (VR), “we started talking about who would be a partner that could bring some of these transformations along with us,” he said.

‘Engineering at the Heart of It’

“Halliburton and Microsoft came together to see how we can coengineer and coinnovate in those areas of digital,” Yeleshwarapu continued. “The strategic partnership starts with engineering at the heart of it. So we’re going to produce newer solutions, change the game, then bring to market together some of these solutions.”

As a first step in the alliance, Halliburton has made DecisionSpace 365 available on Azure, enabling real-time data streaming from IoT edge devices in oil fields and the ability to apply deep-learning models to optimize drilling and production to lower costs for customers.

With the power of DecisionSpace on Azure, big computational and predictive deep-learning algorithms will help optimize field assets and enable next-generation exploration and deep-earth models by using software to fill gaps in sensor data, while reducing the number of steps and time required to render models.

Voice and Image Recognition

The breadth and depth of this collaboration will allow the companies to apply voice and image recognition, video processing, and AR/VR to create a digital representation of a physical asset using Microsoft’s HoloLens and Surface devices.

“Can we push some of these techniques farther? That’s the idea,” Yeleshwarapu said. “How we can make collaboration easier without having to create these large virtual rooms and still give true collaboration between a geoscientist sitting in the office and a driller who’s out there wearing a HoloLens—both looking at the same subsurface model—to make the right decision.”

Additionally, the companies will use digital representation for oil wells and pumps at the IoT edge by using the Landmark Field Appliance and Microsoft Azure Stack technologies. Azure will also become Halliburton’s preferred public cloud provider for iEnergy, its global E&P cloud platform for linking the oil field to the office.

Data, Analytics, and AI Intersect

Speaking on 23 August at the Halliburton Landmark Innovation Forum and Expo in Houston, Zander said the intelligent cloud essentially involves “the intersection of a wide variety of data, combined with an advanced analytics—combined again with the AI—that creates the deep insight. And that’s how we’re going to unlock new business value going forward.” AI is an augmentative technology, he said, “to help experts in their field get even better.”

Zander concluded, “We see tremendous opportunity to take that richness of the Microsoft intelligent cloud and deep expertise and products from Landmark. We think that’s going to actually enable the connected oil fields, the connected workforce, and the predictive analytics and things to come together. [In] places where you might have centers of excellence in each, we can actually look for the next ways to connect them together to get even more out of those.”