QRI: Creating Value through Augmented AI
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QRI: Creating Value through Augmented AI

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Dr. David Castiñeira, CTO & VP of Quantum Technologies and Automation & Dr. Nansen G. Saleri, Chairman & CEO, QRIDr. David Castiñeira, CTO & VP of Quantum Technologies and Automation & Dr. Nansen G. Saleri, Chairman & CEO “Anything that could give rise to smarter-than-human intelligence—in the form of artificial intelligence, brain-computer interfaces, or neuroscience-based human intelligence enhancement—wins hands down beyond contest as doing the most to change the world. Nothing else is even in the same league.”—Eliezer Yudkowsky, a researcher popularizing the idea of friendly AI.

AI and advanced analytics are beginning to transform the oil and gas industry. This is no more an interesting or promising event, it is the future. “There is also a trend toward automation and speed in the oil and gas industry. However, on the downside, automation absent intelligence can vastly accelerate false outcomes,” explains Dr. Nansen G. Saleri, Chairman and CEO of QRI. The successful companies of the future will be those that can integrate domain knowledge and AI algorithms into practical, smartly vetted value-added outcomes. With the singular principle of creating maximum value for clients, Quantum Reservoir Impact (QRI) offers a differentiated approach to reservoir management that is based on augmented AI. “We place a premium on the quality as much as the speed involved,” Saleri adds. The company’s investments are directed at the “I”s in QRI and AI to make its technologies, algorithms, and IP more intelligent and impactful such that the outcomes are practical yet self-evident in value. “Intelligence is the key operative for QRI, and we harness the power of augmented AI and advanced analytics to provide our clients with actionable insights in a fraction of the time compared to the industry standard.”

Based in Houston, TX, QRI's journey commenced with helping oil and gas clients focus on their most important assets— reservoirs. Along with industry experts, Saleri developed superior reservoir management practices using a scientific approach to design processes and metrics that would enable quick and efficient field analysis—identifying gaps, mitigating risks, and targeting opportunities. This way QRI assisted businesses in realizing production increase, reserve appreciation, and capital efficiency. Today, QRI combines those fundamental tenets of reservoir management, proprietary metrics, and processes with advanced analytics, using AI and machine learning to automate complex workflows. Impressively, the company has generated a total value of over $75 billion for its clients over the past decade.

"Intelligence is the key operative for QRI, and we harness the power of augmented AI and advanced analytics to provide our clients with actionable insights in a fraction of the time compared to the industry standard"

Speed + Wisdom + Intelligence = Efficient Reservoir Management

Saleri believes that speed is a huge differentiator in today’s world. Apart from speed, wisdom and intelligence are also important components.

“What is unique about QRI is that we marry the two so that when we present results to our customers, we give them insights, specific recommendations, and actionable items to create value.” Putting this concept to practice is the company’s intelligence workflow methodology—SpeedWise®—that begins with multi-disciplinary data cleaning and organization and ends with solutions and execution support. Using metrics-based analytics, SpeedWise examines data and provides an integrated/ multi-disciplinary view of oil and gas assets to offer a deep understanding of the fundamentals of the assets. This process provides valuable insights to identify key recovery obstacles. With its diagnostic solution, SpeedWise understands the physics of the reservoir to build data-driven predictive models and determine field development opportunities. The methodology effectively reflects on QRI's AI-driven philosophy.

We are illuminating information and data by bringing clarity and speed for companies in the energy industry to make more informed and value-based decisions

Clients can assess the current value of hydrocarbon reservoir portfolios using SpeedWise® Portfolio Analysis that helps perform quick and comprehensive well by well inspection without human intervention. This enables them to make real-time investment decisions and define their portfolios with the U.S. oil and gas wells. At the same time, the solutions allow clients to get an overview of competitor curves and identify their top performing assets. Besides, QRI also excels at providing an efficient assessment or analysis of resource plays for valuation of acreage and development planning through its SpeedWise® Unconventionals. With machine learning and big data technologies combined with hyperbolic decline curve analysis and nonlinear optimization, the service provides an understanding of production trends, effectiveness of drilling, and completion practices. Clients can identify and evaluate the commerciality of high productivity areas and differentiate them from non-commercial areas. The service also helps optimize well spacing and D&C designs according to lessons and experiences captured from historical and current industrial practices. Adjacently, clients can optimize future field development based on comprehensive production and cost estimates powered by AI and hybrid technologies. “With SpeedWise, we have automated objective, diagnostic capabilities whereby we can run diagnostics on reservoirs and determine the health and integrity of this critically important dimension in a company's wealth, value, and future earnings,” says Dr. David Castiñeira, CTO and VP of quantum technologies and automation at QRI.

To exhibit the impact and power of analytics, Saleri recalls an instance of a Latin American company that was facing an issue in evaluating the efficiency of their artificial lift system in lifting fluids from reservoir to the surface. They approached QRI to analyze their assets and assess the performance of the artificial lift system they were using.

It took QRI only two and a half months to examine the complete field with 300 wells using advanced analytics. As an outcome, the client was able to increase its production by 25 percent and generate incremental revenues of $18 million. Projected annual savings were in excess of $180 million.

Exploring the Boundless Possibilities of Innovation

With such impressive success stories, QRI has effectively been serving the oil and gas industry for 11 years, carving a niche for itself. It is Saleri’s determination and perseverance that has steered the company all along. Considered one of the industry's preeminent authorities in reservoir management for his pioneering ideas in maximizing hydrocarbon recoveries, Saleri currently holds six U.S. patents. As the son of a prominent 20th century female artist, Kristin Saleri, he is a firm believer of free spirit. His thoughts inspire the ethos of QRI—to explore the boundless possibilities of innovation. Following the idea of this free spirit, the company’s culture is about constantly experimenting, and being fiercely argumentative to spur disruptively creative solutions. QRI’s team of knowledgeable experts is driven by the passion of value creation that brings authenticity and creativity in its services, which is regularly appreciated by its clients. In fact, one senior executive of a client even told Saleri, “The way QRI works on complex oil and gas problems should be taught in graduate schools.”

Saleri strongly advocates the use of AI in the oil and gas industry, which currently accounts for a miniscule percentage of decision making, but will soon conquer the industry. Just like seat-belts were not a necessity for a car many decades back but now it has become a prerequisite, and there is no second thought about it. He remarks that in 2018, the practical impact of AI and advanced analytics started becoming evident. “We got involved in an M&A transaction that comprised of 400,000 wells, 55 producing assets, and 10 million barrels of daily production, across six major producing basins around the globe. The only reason we were able to achieve a successful outcome was due to our solutions that offer differentiated AI and advanced analytics.”

Similarly, Castiñeira also points to the growing role of model interpretability—the ability to explain the behavior of complex machine learning models in practical AI applications and decision-making. QRI is vesting its focus on model interpretability as well as formally incorporating uncertainty frameworks into the problems of machine learning or dealing with small data sets. “Properly constraining machine learning challenges with fundamental physics and engineering principles would make a difference in large-scale industrial applications of AI.”

With a strong and growing presence in the Middle East, Latin America, and parts of the U.S., QRI plans to expand globally in the near future. The company aims for exponential growth in the coming years as they plan to build more integrative solutions including analysis of complex data sets and workflows. “We are illuminating information and data by bringing clarity and speed for companies in the energy industry to make more informed and value-based decisions,” says Castiñeira.

- Khyati Dubal
    March 18, 2019