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James Stafford

James Stafford

James Stafford is the Editor of Oilprice.com

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Artificial Intelligence Could Trigger a Natural Gas Boom in Europe

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When the use of seismic surveys became common place, Oil and gas drillers used to drill only in spots the human eye could detect from seismic and other data, but that’s all changing now. The next round of onshore discoveries is being aided by new Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning software that sees what we can’t, forever disrupting the exploration game. 

Nowhere is this more urgent than in Europe—a continent starved for domestic resources since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the weaponization of Russian natural gas. 

Machine Learning software capable of sampling large volumes of 3D seismic, breaking down wave forms to identify unique patterns, and revealing new targets for the drill bit that the human eye has never seen … 

That completely changes exploration.  

It’s been used around the world, and now, it’s being deployed in Austria and Germany by junior explorer MCF Energy (TSXV:MCFOTC:MCFNF), the North American company that is the first to offer investors exposure to European natural gas since Russia invaded Ukraine. 

MCF saw the value of this technology early on and has used it extensively wherever possible in their search for gas in Europe, according to its CEO, James Hill.

And for Germany, in particular, the timing is critical. Critical enough, in fact, that the EU has reclassified natural gas as “Green” and sustainable. 

If Germany fails to sustainably make up for its winding down of Russian natural gas domestically, high-priced LNG imports, delayed nuclear power phaseout and even restarting of dormant coal plants will be the outcome. Renewables cannot yet bridge the gap in the energy transition, and resorting to coal would set things back drastically for the climate. 

Natural Gas Paradise Beyond the Human Eye

In the past, humans only picked prospects to drill visually from the 3D seismic aided by visual hydrocarbon indicators in the data. Now, thanks to new software, they can drill in places they never would have before. AI and Machine Learning sees what we can’t. 

MCF Energy has both—the power of AI to see beyond the human eye, and prospects with a previously drilled  well that produced gas in Austria, along with two previous discoveries in Germany. MCF has just started drilling at its Welchau prospect in Austria. Welchau is a geologic structure you can see from space and covers about 100 sq km.  An independent evaluation estimated potentially recoverable resources of some 100 million barrels of oil equivalent in an evaluation last year.  A well drilled in the 80’s found producible gas and condensate just south of the location being drilled, confirming the presence of gas in the area. 

When this 40-day drill is complete, MCF is planning to move the drill rig to Germany, where it will re-open an oil and gas play of over 110 square kilometers in the Lech and East Lech concessions, which have already seen two historical discoveries and three previously drilled wells at Lech. 

They’re not drilling blind, or with limitations of the human eye. 

"The Machine Learning technology that MCF Energy is using allows for the computer to ‘see’ information within seismic data which the human eye cannot. This technology is a game changer and is only now being discovered by other operators,” MCF Energy’s Hill told Oilprice.com recently. Using Paradise software, MCF Energy’s key AI analyst, advisor Deborah Sacrey, has a prediction success rate of over 80% for drilling in areas that are not visual to humans on the data. She has 9 discoveries of this nature to her name, according to the company. 

Sacrey, a geologist and geophysicist with 45 years of oil and gas exploration experience in the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast and Mid-Continent areas of the U.S., specializes in 2D and 3D seismic interpretation. She’s the only one using Paradise for her clientele, and that’s because she was one of its developers. 

Paradise software isn’t proprietary, but only a small field of experts have the ability to effectively use it, and MCF Energy (TSXV:MCFOTC:MCFNFhas the advantage of having one of its developers on its advisory board. 

The power of supercomputing has now reached the point of being able to sample data within a 3D seismic volume and break down the wave forms into over 50 “neurons” that each have different attributes of waves. Those “neurons” are then matched up to well information in both dry and producing wells. And comparing this treasure trove of data then yields a unique set of “neurons” that identify gas, oil, porosity and many other factors that control production. 

Source: Geoinsights.com

AI scans the entire data set for those unique sets of “neurons” and identifies them on the map. 

Paradise software, according to Sacrey, analyzes seismic data 15 times more densely than other existing software, and that allows it to distinguish very thin beds of deposition in the subsurface and see thin streaks of porosity that the human eye cannot.  

Paradise’s Fault Detection uses deep learning and machine learning to automatically detect faults, and generates attributes to extract meaningful geological information. 

State-of-the-art color-blending highlights geologic features, such as faults or stratigraphic features, in 3D.

Paradise software applies Self-Organizing Map (SOM) unsupervised machine learning to reveal stratigraphic facies and their distributions, and captures facies based on distinctive seismic patterns using Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) deep learning technology. 

Estimating volumes of reserves, resources and geologic features, and comparing machine learning classification results and other seismic attributes to traditional well logs should help explorers like MCF get the drill bit in the right place faster, cheaper and much more efficiently. 

This potentially gives MCF Energy a “leg up” when it comes to analyzing the areas to drill and helps to reduce risk in understanding the subsurface.

How AI Is Changing Exploration & Discovery

The oil and gas industry is AI’s and Machine Learning’s biggest cheerleader. 

That’s because the disruption these technologies creates and opens opportunities, which could turn into major upside. Forbes calls the changes “profound”, noting that the world’s top 20 oil and gas producers all have major AI strategies for every point along the chain. 

Mordor Intelligence projected oil and gas spending on AI to close out 2023 at $2.38 billion, and to reach $4.21 billion by the end of 2028.  

New AI announcements come on a near-daily basis. 

Shell—the biggest producer in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico--will use AI-based technology from big-data analytics company SparkCognition for deep sea exploration and production—both to pinpoint where to drill and boost offshore production. 

AI could shorten exploration to less than nine days from nine months, the two companies said in a statement, with SparkCognition’s Bruce Porter noting that “generative AI for seismic imaging can positively disrupt the exploration process and has broad and far-reaching implications".

Back in Europe, MCF is doing the same—onshore, and on a continent that desperately needs to secure energy independence from Russia, without creating a secondary dependence on expensive American LNG. 

Now, as MCF Energy (TSXV:MCFOTC:MCFNF), prepares for its first drill in Germany, it’s armed with a significant AI and Machine Learning advantage for targeting drills in plays abandoned by supermajors decades ago, before Europe realized it couldn’t survive on cheap Russian gas anymore. 

MCF’s Lech prospect in Germany came with a modern 3D seismic survey of over 160 square kilometers of 3D seismic data to apply new Paradise Machine Learning technology to. “Using this,” said Hill, “we were able to identify the gas-bearing zones precisely and compare them to the rest of the area. We compared the known gas-bearing area in Lech with the rest of the survey covering Lech East and identified multiple prospects with great potential.” 

Paradise’s AI – Machine Learning Workbench distinguishes thin beds and Direct Hydrocarbon indicators while identifying and calibrating detailed stratigraphy and automatically detecting faults and revealing fracture trends. It also classifies seismic facies, isolates geobodies and calculates potential oil and gas volumes . 

Machine learning allows for the concise ability to reveal the natural gas targets and handle well placement to key zones with porosity and hydrocarbon potential identical to the proven areas, and MCF was one of the first companies to apply it to the entire exploration and development program, according to Hill. 

“This proven technique greatly reduces the risk in drilling and helps target the best possible places and depths to drill these wells,” Hill said, adding that it has had a prediction success rate of over 80% when it comes to predicting the geology to identify previously unseen discoveries.  

Big Tech is Turning the Oil and Gas Sector on Its Head

Google Cloud, a product of Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), is redefining the oil and gas industry's approach to digital transformation with its cutting-edge AI and cloud technologies. Through strategic partnerships with industry leaders such as Schlumberger and Baker Hughes, Google Cloud is enabling these companies to leverage cloud computing, data analytics, and machine learning to optimize operations, enhance exploration efficiency, and reduce environmental impact. These collaborations highlight Google Cloud's role in facilitating the energy sector's shift towards more sustainable and efficient practices.

The partnership with Schlumberger, for instance, has resulted in the DELFI cognitive E&P environment, which utilizes Google Cloud's AI and data analytics capabilities to revolutionize oil and gas exploration and production. Similarly, Baker Hughes has tapped into Google Cloud's expertise to develop digital solutions that improve operational efficiency and contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions in the oil and gas industry.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), a product of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has emerged as a key technology partner for the oil and gas industry, offering cloud services that enable companies like BP and Shell to harness the power of AI, machine learning, and data analytics for operational improvement and innovation. AWS's collaborations with these energy giants demonstrate its significant impact on the sector, facilitating advancements in drilling efficiency, safety measures, and renewable energy projects.

The partnership with BP, for example, showcases how AWS's cloud computing capabilities can accelerate digital transformation efforts, streamlining data management and enhancing decision-making processes. Shell's use of AWS services further exemplifies the potential of cloud technology and AI to optimize energy production and distribution, while also driving sustainability initiatives.

C3.ai (NYSE: AI) stands at the forefront of AI innovation in the oil and gas industry, offering AI software applications that transform how companies predict equipment failures, optimize production processes, and enhance operational efficiency. Through partnerships with industry leaders like Baker Hughes and Shell, C3.ai is directly contributing to the sector's digital transformation, leveraging AI to tackle some of the most challenging operational issues faced by oil and gas companies.

The collaboration with Baker Hughes, forming the BHC3 alliance, exemplifies how AI technology can be applied to predict maintenance needs and optimize operations, thereby improving safety and reducing downtime. Shell's deployment of C3.ai's applications showcases the potential of AI to significantly impact operational decision-making and efficiency, setting new standards for the industry.

For those considering investment opportunities, C3.ai represents a company deeply embedded in the technological revolution of the oil and gas sector. Its focus on AI-driven solutions positions C3.ai as a critical enabler of the industry's future, where operational efficiency, safety, and sustainability are paramount. C3.ai's role in advancing AI applications within the sector underscores its potential for growth and its contribution to the broader energy transition.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), through its Azure platform, is playing a transformative role in the oil and gas industry, leveraging its cloud computing, AI, and machine learning capabilities to drive innovation and efficiency. Through strategic partnerships with companies like Chevron and Schlumberger, Microsoft Azure is enabling the digital transformation of the oil and gas sector, from upstream exploration and production to downstream operations.

The collaboration with Chevron, for instance, utilizes Microsoft's cloud technology to streamline data analysis, enhancing the speed and efficiency of decision-making processes. Similarly, the partnership with Schlumberger through the DELFI environment integrates Azure's AI and data analytics to innovate in exploration and production workflows.

Microsoft's emphasis on sustainability through cloud solutions helps the oil and gas industry reduce its carbon footprint by optimizing operations and improving energy efficiency. The company's global reach and comprehensive tech solutions position Microsoft as a key player in supporting the sector's shift towards a more sustainable and technologically advanced future.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) is at the cutting edge of integrating AI and cognitive computing technologies into the oil and gas industry, significantly enhancing operational efficiencies and predictive capabilities. Through its IBM Watson platform, the company has forged partnerships with industry players like ExxonMobil and Halliburton, applying AI to solve complex challenges ranging from geological data analysis to optimizing drilling operations.

IBM's collaboration with ExxonMobil leverages the power of Watson to analyze geological data and improve the accuracy of exploration activities. This partnership exemplifies how AI can transform data into actionable insights, leading to more efficient resource discovery and extraction processes. Furthermore, IBM's work with Halliburton on cognitive computing solutions showcases the potential to optimize drilling and production operations, enhancing safety and reducing environmental impact.

IBM's focus on innovation extends to blockchain technology for supply chain transparency and cybersecurity solutions to protect critical infrastructure. These technological advancements underscore IBM's role in driving the digital and sustainable transformation of the oil and gas industry.

NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA), widely recognized for its advancements in graphics processing technology, has also emerged as a pivotal player in integrating AI across various sectors, including the energy industry. NVIDIA's powerful GPUs and AI platforms are being utilized to revolutionize how energy companies, particularly in the oil and gas sector, conduct exploration, production, and operational efficiency tasks.

NVIDIA's technology enables faster and more accurate processing of seismic data, allowing oil and gas companies to more effectively identify potential extraction sites. Moreover, the company's AI-driven analytics and machine learning models facilitate predictive maintenance of infrastructure, optimizing energy production and minimizing downtime by foreseeing equipment failures before they occur.

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NVIDIA's contributions to the energy sector extend to sustainability efforts, with AI models helping companies reduce their carbon footprint through more efficient resource management and operations. This technological prowess positions NVIDIA as an essential partner for energy companies aiming to leverage AI for competitive advantage, operational improvements, and environmental stewardship.

Palantir Technologies Inc. (NYSE: PLTR) specializes in big data analytics, offering platforms that have significant applications in the energy industry, including oil and gas. Palantir's software enables energy companies to integrate vast amounts of data from disparate sources, applying advanced analytics and machine learning to uncover insights that drive operational efficiency, strategic decision-making, and innovation.

Through its platforms, Palantir facilitates optimized exploration and production activities, helping companies identify and exploit resources more efficiently. Its predictive analytics capabilities also play a crucial role in anticipating equipment failures and operational bottlenecks, ensuring smoother, safer, and more efficient operations.

Palantir's commitment to ethical and responsible data use aligns with the growing emphasis on sustainability and corporate governance in the energy sector. By providing tools that enhance decision-making and operational transparency, Palantir helps energy companies navigate the complexities of modern energy challenges, including the transition to renewable sources and the reduction of environmental impacts.

Brookfield Renewable Corporation (NYSE: BEPC, TSX: BEPC) is capitalizing on the burgeoning demand for renewable energy, underpinned by strategic acquisitions and organic growth opportunities. Aiming for an increase in its funds from operations (FFO) by over 10% this year, Brookfield Renewable is on track to exceed this target, with projections of sustained double-digit earnings growth until at least 2027. A significant part of this optimistic outlook is attributed to the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a new catalyst, poised to bolster the company's growth trajectory in the coming years.

AI technology, known for its substantial electricity consumption, presents an exponential increase in demand for power. A single data center's energy use can equate to that of 50,000 homes, while AI operations demand even more, with a single training model consuming more electricity in a year than 100 homes. This surge in electricity demand due to AI's expansion offers a unique growth avenue for Brookfield Renewable.

Brookfield Renewable is strategically positioned to benefit from the AI-driven escalation in electricity demand. The company has forged strong partnerships with leading global technology firms, positioning it as a primary supplier for their burgeoning power needs. In recent updates, CEO Connor Teskey highlighted the potential for AI to triple or more the demand from certain large technology companies by the mid-to-late 2020s. This increase is driven by the demand for generative AI computing power. Teskey noted that these tech giants, already the largest green power procurers globally, could match the UK's current energy consumption should they meet their 100% renewable power objectives.

Suncor Energy Inc. (NYSE: SU, TSX: SU), a giant in the Canadian energy landscape, is forging a path toward technological innovation and digital transformation, committing approximately $545 million in 2022 towards technology development, deployment, and digitalization. This investment underscores Suncor's dedication to enhancing operational efficiency, addressing climate change, and tapping into low-emission energy sources through projects in cogeneration, hydrogen, and renewable fuels.

Suncor is also collaborating with Microsoft Corp., a deal that represents a strategic leap towards harnessing the power of cloud computing, big data, and machine learning. This partnership, a first of its kind in the oilsands industry, is set to revolutionize Suncor's operations across various domains. From transforming its retail fuel network of Petro-Canada stations to enhancing data analytics at its oilsands projects, Suncor is embracing digital innovation to redefine its business processes and workplace environment.

The initiative, part of Suncor's broader "Suncor 4.0" strategy, signifies the company's transition into the digital age, marking its fourth major transformation. With investments in autonomous trucks, wearable technology for safety and productivity, and now, a strategic alliance with Microsoft to leverage AI and cloud technologies, Suncor is positioning itself at the forefront of digital transformation in the energy sector.

Canadian Natural Resources Limited (TSX:CNQ) a cornerstone of Canada's energy industry, could benefit if it chooses to integrate AI across its vast operations. By leveraging AI in predictive maintenance, the company could significantly reduce downtime and extend the life of critical equipment. AI-driven analytics could also optimize resource extraction processes, enabling more efficient production with minimal environmental impact.

The use of AI for environmental monitoring represents another frontier. Through advanced algorithms, Canadian Natural could analyze data from various sources to better understand and mitigate its ecological footprint, enhancing compliance with environmental regulations and sustainability goals.

Canadian Natural's potential foray into AI signifies a commitment to operational excellence and environmental stewardship. These technological advancements promise to bolster its competitive edge, ensuring resilience and profitability in a rapidly changing energy market.

Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB), known for its extensive pipeline networks, could employ AI to revolutionize the way it monitors and manages its infrastructure. AI could provide real-time insights into pipeline integrity, predict potential failures before they occur, and optimize the flow of energy resources, thereby enhancing safety and reliability.

In customer service and demand forecasting, AI can analyze patterns to predict future energy needs, allowing Enbridge to adjust its operations accordingly. This not only ensures stability and efficiency but also aligns with efforts to balance supply with renewable energy sources.

BlackBerry Limited (TSX:BB), once renowned for its mobile communication devices, has pivoted towards becoming a global leader in secure communication and collaboration solutions. In the energy sector, BlackBerry's suite of services, including BlackBerry® Workspaces, offers unparalleled data security and mobile collaboration capabilities, addressing the industry's unique challenges in information sharing and mobile workforce management.

BlackBerry Workspaces enables energy companies to securely manage and share sensitive documents, such as geological surveys, production plans, and intellectual property, across and beyond their organizations. The platform's document-centric security architecture embeds controls and tracking directly into files, ensuring that sensitive information remains protected across all devices, online and offline, even after being downloaded from the system.

By. James Stafford

Forward-Looking Statements

This publication contains forward-looking information which is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Forward looking statements in this publication include that large oil and gas companies will continue to focus on offshore natural gas resources; the impact of AI technologies on the oil and gas industry and its ability to identify valuable exploration targets; that domestic onshore natural gas assets in Europe will provide a more affordable energy source than offshore resources; that demand for natural gas will continue to increase in Europe and Germany; that Russia will not supply the majority of natural gas in Germany and Europe; that natural gas will continue to be utilized as a main energy source in Germany and other European countries and demand for natural gas, and in particular domestic natural gas, will continue and increase in the future; that MCF Energy Ltd. (the “Company”) can replicate the previous success of its key investors and management in developing and selling valuable energy assets; that the natural gas projects of the Company will be successfully tested and developed; that the Company can develop and supply a safe, domestic source of energy to European countries; that natural gas will be reclassified as sustainable energy which will support the development of the Company’s assets; that imports of liquified natural gas will not be sustainable for Europe and that European countries will need to rely on domestic sources of natural gas; that the Company expects to obtain significant attention due to its upcoming drilling plans combined with Europe desperate for domestic natural gas supply; that the upcoming drilling on the Company’s projects will be successful; that the Company’s projects will contain commercial amounts of natural gas; that the Company can finance ongoing operations and development; that the Company can achieve its business plans and objectives as anticipated. These forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information.  Risks that could change or prevent these statements from coming to fruition include that the expected benefits from using AI technologies may not be as significant as expected, that large oil and gas companies will start focusing on the development of domestic natural gas resources; that the natural gas resources of competitors will be more successful or obtain a greater share of market supply; that offshore liquified natural gas assets will be favored over domestic resources for various reasons; that alternative technologies will replace natural gas as a mainstream energy source in Europe and elsewhere; that demand for natural gas will not continue to increase as expected for various reasons, including climate change and emerging technologies; that political changes will result in Russia or other countries providing natural gas supplies in future; that the Company may fail to replicate the previous success of its key investors and management in developing and selling valuable energy assets; that the natural gas projects of the Company may fail to be successfully tested and developed; that the Company’s projects may not contain commercial amounts of natural gas; that the Company may be unable to develop and supply a safe, domestic source of energy to European countries; that natural gas may not be reclassified as sustainable energy or may be replaced by other energy sources; that the upcoming drilling on the Company’s projects may be unsuccessful or may be less positive than expected; that the Company’s projects may not contain commercial amounts of natural gas; that the Company may be unable to finance its ongoing operations and development; that the Company can achieve its business plans and objectives as anticipated; that the Company may be unable to finance its ongoing operations and development; that the business of the Company may be unsuccessful for various reasons. The forward-looking information contained herein is given as of the date hereof and we assume no responsibility to update or revise such information to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.

DISCLAIMERS

This communication is for entertainment purposes only. Never invest purely based on our communication. We have not been compensated by MCF Energy Ltd. for this article but may in the future be compensated to conduct investor awareness advertising and marketing for MCF Energy Ltd. While the opinions expressed in this article are based on information believed to be accurate and reliable, such information in our communications and on our website has not been independently verified and is not guaranteed to be correct. The content of this article is based solely on our opinions which are based on very limited analysis and we are not professional analysts or advisors.

SHARE OWNERSHIP AND NOTIFICATION OF BIAS. The owner of Oilprice.com owns shares of MCF Energy Ltd. and therefore has an incentive to see the featured company’s stock perform well. The owner of Oilprice.com will not notify the market when it decides to buy more or sell shares of MCF Energy Ltd. in the market. The owner of Oilprice.com will be buying and selling shares of this issuer for its own profit. Accordingly, our views and opinions in this article are subject to bias, and we stress that you should conduct your own extensive due diligence regarding the Company as well as seek the advice of your professional financial advisor or a registered broker-dealer before you consider investing in any securities of the Company or otherwise. 

NOT AN INVESTMENT ADVISOR. Oilprice.com is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation.  You should not treat any opinion expressed herein as an inducement to make a particular investment or to follow a particular strategy, but only as an expression of opinion. The opinions expressed herein do not take into account the suitability of any investment with your particular objectives or risk tolerance. Investments or strategies mentioned in this article and on our website may not be suitable for you and are not intended as recommendations.

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  • George Doolittle on March 04 2024 said:
    Germany has said "nein" to both coal and nuclear power is the demand issue for Germany anyways...combined with Russia invasion Ukraine has completely disrupted much...tho not all Europe .. energy economics upon Europe (Finland now a huge exception to that.) as a consequence and going on 2 Years now IBM has been effectively running all of Europe's "energy policy" just through dispatch services alone let alone now to include distributed grid. Tesla has been standing up an online based dispatch service at giga Texas in Austin is the rumor anyways...and potentially a very valuable rumor if true...but still no mass production of solar panels in house in response via SolarCity so even Tesla still has a *LONG* way to go towards becoming a power producer that bears watching even in Australia. The idea is a great one tho and remarkably only an idea that Ford Motor Company has somewhat tried to emulate. That could change quite quickly were IBM to decide to buy out of bankruptcy one of these pure BEV failing das auto. Certainly IBM had a huge up day today anyways. Tesla ..exact opposite. Not sure what to make of Aptera but certainly the 30 million vehicles China produced last Year with an even bigger number prepared for this Year looks set to be pretty much unsold anywhere and everywhere for 2024 Calendar Year. Prices for motorcycles in the USA are crazy high at the moment as well and look set for a stupendous plunge in coming Months to me anyways. Many of these machines are well and truly spot on in every way excepting #irony the pure BEV ones. Still throw a solar panel upon every motorcycle in production and certainly no problem charging a cell phone anymore. As for AI and geology oil exploration I'm not sure where the energy demand for this would be once an item be mapped either by ship or from satellite or ground based radar. I can't imagine much more than what a wall outlet provides actually and certainly not a line direct from the utility as dedicated for so specific a task. No evidence is given that this is happening by way of specific example.

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