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Halliburton, Microsoft Sharing Big Data to Digitally Transform Oil, NatGas Industry

Taking a page from one of its top competitors, Halliburton Co. said Tuesday it plans to combine its oilfield services (OFS) wizardry with Microsoft’s data capabilities to drive a “digital transformation” across the oil and natural gas industry.

Houston-based Halliburton’s global expertise in exploration and production (E&P) science, software and services is set to ally with Microsoft’s expertise in cloud and digital technology to help transform the abilities of oil and gas operators. No financial details were disclosed.

Learnings would be applied by the partners to reservoir characterization, modeling/simulation, visualization for mixed reality, interactive applications and digitalizing E&P assets.

“Halliburton is focused on delivering intelligent cloud solutions to drive the next generation of efficient oil and gas exploration and production,” said Microsoft Azure’s Jason Zander, corporate vice president. "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."

Halliburton long has been considered an OFS leader in innovative technology and in digitizing its offerings for the oil and gas patch. While its peers also market their digital expertise, the field took on more weight following the blockbuster merger between General Electric’s GE Oil & Gas division and Baker Hughes Inc. The merger, completed last month, created Baker Hughes, a GE company, which markets itself as an OFS expert, focused on leveraging digital and advanced technologies.

According to Halliburton and Microsoft, researchers and engineers from each company plan to leverage and optimize Microsoft technologies in machine learning, augmented reality (AR), user interactions and the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT). Azure's “high-performant” infrastructure and built-in computing capabilities would be tailored to deliver integrated solutions across the energy value chain.

As a first step in the alliance, Halliburton is giving Azure access to its DecisionSpace365 technology, which enables real-time data streaming from IoT edge devices in oilfields. The system is able to apply learning models that optimize drilling and production, in theory to lower costs for E&P customers.

Providing DecisionSpace for Azure allows “big compute and predictive deep-learning algorithms” that in turn “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,” the partners said.

“Halliburton is at the forefront of the digital transformation occurring in the E&P industry,” said Senior Vice President Nagaraj Srinivasan of Landmark and Halliburton Digital Solutions. “We believe open architecture and community-based innovation are necessary to drive this fundamental change…”

The collaboration is expected to allow the partners to apply voice and image recognition, video processing and AR/virtual reality to create a digital representation of a physical asset using Microsoft’s HoloLens and Surface devices. Additionally, the companies would use digital representation for oil wells and pumps at the IoT edge using the Landmark Field Appliance and Azure Stack.

Microsoft Azure also was named Halliburton’s preferred public cloud provider for iEnergy, said to be the industry’s first global E&P cloud linking the oilfield to the office.

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