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Artificial intelligence: No substitute for the real thing
By John Moody Early Stage Manager

Technology has brought us computer chess champions, robotic heart surgeons and now driverless cars but can it ever really replace good old fashioned human knowledge and experience?

People talk about software as if it is the black box holding the key to fool-proof decision making: the source of all answers, the definitive authority, the unquestionable keeper of the truth. But if you don’t understand what’s going on inside the black box then how do you know that it’s giving you the right answers not just for your project but for your business?

We recognise the distinctive challenges that conceptual engineering involves and the value it creates. Creativity is important in this phase and we pride ourselves on our proven innovative approach, both technical and commercial, to concept definition and development.

We utilise a suite of state of the art specialist tools under our Accelerated Conceptual Engineering (ACE) offering which we use to produce quick, cost effective technical and economic evaluations to assist with upstream development decision making.

It can be used to define and review the full range of feasible concepts and do so consistently, delivering robust outcomes quickly. Facilities definition and cost estimates delivered as part of the process are engineering-based and data is presented in a clear and concise manner, supporting decisions to move to the next stage, recycle, cancel, defer or sell.

It takes a certain degree of expertise to run a software programme. But far more important is having seasoned project and discipline engineers whose real life experience of doing the same job before the software came along gives them the ability to understand what to do with the data the software generates.

Our approach allows us to explore optimum wells and facilities configurations and phasing for alternative development and export options, taking account of the forecast range of reserves outcomes. It integrates subsurface, drilling, process, commercial and operations requirements to define all aspects of a development option through field life, delivering capital and operational expenditure costs for the options in line with the project maturity.

Critically, as the final recommendation has to fit within an overall context of how the operator wants to develop a field, our integrated approach allows us to use the results to facilitate the decisions between different departments and disciplines.

We use the natural breaks in the process to ensure all sides are speaking to each other with the right information at the right time and our clients can move through the stage approval gates with fewer decisions outstanding and increased confidence.

So in closing, who knows where technology will take us in the future but I for one, am confident there is no substitute for the human intellect.

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