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ExxonMobil, Microsoft Say Sky’s the Limit as They Take Permian Ops into Cloud

ExxonMobil Corp., whose Permian Basin leasehold holds an estimated 9.5 billion boe resources base across 1.6 million acres, has launched a partnership with Microsoft Corp. to create the largest oil and natural gas acreage ever to use cloud technology.

The project could generate “billions in net cash flow” in the next decade by improving analyses and enhancements to operational efficiencies, the supermajor said Friday.

Applying Microsoft technologies by subsidiary XTO Energy, including Dynamics 365, Azure, Machine Learning and Internet of Things, capital efficiencies could support as much as 50,000 boe/d in production growth by 2025.

“The combination of Microsoft’s technologies with our unique strengths in oilfield technologies, production efficiency and integration will help drive growth in the Permian and serve as a model for additional implementation across the U.S. and abroad,” said XTO’s Staale Gjervik, senior vice president, Permian integrated development.

“The unconventional business is fast moving, complex and data-rich, which makes it well suited for the application of digital technologies to strengthen our operations and help deliver greater value.”

The partnership includes an integrated cloud environment to collect real-time data securely and reliably from oilfield assets that span hundreds of miles across West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. The data could lead to faster and better decisions on drilling optimization, well completions and prioritizing personnel deployment.

In addition, ExxonMobil expects leak detection and repair response times to be further reduced with enhanced access to emissions data, strengthening XTO’s voluntary actions announced in 2017 to manage methane emissions. Last year, ExxonMobil also set a company-wide two-year target to reduce natural gas flaring by 25% and methane emissions by 15% to improve overall business operations.

Applying the data in the Permian acreage “represents industry’s largest acreage position using cloud technology,” ExxonMobil management noted.

ExxonMobil has taken a leadership approach in its digital strategy, said Microsoft’s Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president of the business applications and industry unit.

“ExxonMobil is leading the way for industry, grounding their goals in making data-driven decisions that will result in safer operations for their employees and more profitable activities for the company,” Taylor said. “Our cloud infrastructure and business applications will continue to support ExxonMobil as it fully realizes its strategy across the Permian.”

Microsoft’s platforms, including Azure Data Lake, would enable ExxonMobil to incorporate third-party solutions at scale across the basin using mobile field data applications to optimize well performance, and artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze drilling and completions data.

With the additional layer of Microsoft’s intelligent business applications, such as Dynamics 365, ExxonMobil and XTO would have a complete, end-to-end view of the Permian operations.

“Digital technology is a fundamental enabler for our Permian development,” Gjervik said. “Through our partnership with Microsoft, we’re combining our technical and engineering expertise with cloud and data analytics capabilities to develop the Permian resource in the most capital-efficient manner. Collaboration with Microsoft is key to our future development efforts, which include predictive maintenance capacities, innovative tools for employees, and artificial intelligence and machine learning integration.”

The announcement follows one by Schlumberger Ltd., which said would combine its reservoir technology into a joint venture called Sensia with industrial automation and information created by Rockwell Automation. Sensia is set to begin serving oil and gas customers this summer as the first fully integrated digital oilfield automation systems provider, according to Schlumberger.

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