Transitioning to a Cleaner Environment Using AI

By Bruce G. Buchanan, Ph.D., April 6, 2021

Everyone has reason to be concerned about climate change. Companies in every sector, particularly oil & gas companies, are feeling pressure to make changes.

The demands by legislators, activists, and investors are frequently inconsistent, impossible, or incompatible with the necessity of providing energy to people. Changes in consumer sentiment and government legislation add to a volatile business environment, made even more uncertain because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While these calls for change are motivated by the growing awareness that “something must be done,” the amount of information needed for decision-making is growing even faster.

Given the facts that the world’s energy needs are increasing and major changes take time, both short-term and long-term responses are necessary. i2k Connect can help you manage the information related to this transition in several ways.

Managing information for immediate steps

An obvious first step for companies and individuals is to reduce daily energy use in office buildings and homes. Air conditioning, for example, accounts for 12% of the U.S. home energy use and even more for office buildings“Energy represents about 19% of total expenditures for the typical office building, which is a significant operational cost deserving of management attention.” Moreover, according to the IEA:

“Global energy demand from air conditioners is expected to triple by 2050, requiring new electricity capacity the equivalent to the combined electricity capacity of the United States, the EU and Japan today. . . . Making cooling more efficient would also yield multiple benefits, making it more affordable, more secure, and more sustainable, and saving as much as USD 2.9 trillion in investment, fuel and operating costs.”

Changes as simple as installing programmable (“smart”) thermostats in offices and homes make a good investment. Making operations in the field or factory more efficient can also make a difference (for example, finding and repairing the worst hydrocarbon leaks in pipelines). One step further, companies are accelerating the introduction of new technologies to reduce their carbon footprint (for example, capturing and sequestering CO2 from their operations). i2k Connect will help track new devices, new technologies, and new companies, or track changes being introduced by competitors.

In addition to introducing energy-saving measures, many companies are introducing renewable energy sources in their daily operations, using electricity from their own solar panels, for example, as a step toward becoming a “carbon-neutral” consumer. Information in this rapidly growing sector is voluminous and time-consuming to digest. In a similar vein, Apple Computers recently announced a program to help over 100 suppliers become carbon neutral, a strategic move by many large companies that affects many others. i2k Connect will find and summarize new information for you.

Venture capital money has begun flowing into this market again and provides immediate opportunities for startups. James Bradford, chief executive of asset manager Vivid Capital management, for example, was quoted in a recent article:

“It is difficult to overstate the magnitude and duration of the energy and transportation transition ahead of us. . . . This is a multi-decade investment thematic that is every bit as significant as the advent of the industrial age, railroads, the internet and digitization. It will take decades and enormous industries will form and we will use vast quantities of hydrocarbons along the way.”

The i2k Connect Newsflash service gives decision-makers regularly scheduled summaries of news from selected sources, with links to the full articles. Our AI-based retrieval system goes well beyond finding keywords or everything from canned lists of a few dozen categories. For example, locating and searching by locations of oil & gas fields and basins requires more than retrieving documents that mention their ambiguous names.

Eliminating duplicate documents from a large library is more about productivity improvement and cost-saving than energy-saving. But all are bottom-line expenses. i2k Connect can identify both exact duplicates and near duplicates.

Similarly, documents are stored over years in formats that render them hard to find and analyze. Data in human-readable tables stored in PDF documents, for example, cannot be analyzed in the same way that spreadsheet data can. i2k Connect uses AI to read the images of tables, reconstruct their tabular structure, and extract data from them (for example, for analysis of trends).

Managing information for longer-term strategic decisions

The long-term, global nature of climate change calls for periodic review of a company’s opportunities. The increasing availability of renewable energy presents new opportunities for energy sources, and the increasing number of small companies presents opportunities for acquiring the energy sources themselves. A special report from April 2020, for example, cites the “increasing willingness of oil majors to venture into power generation and renewables.” Chevron, for example, is making a major push to become carbon neutral.

Schlumberger’s recent announcement of a partnership with a geothermal development company also illustrates this. Their aim is “to develop efficient and profitable geothermal power generation projects to support a reliable supply of clean energy.”

From the special report mentioned above:

“Competition for the best renewables assets will remain intense. While the broader M&A market faces headwinds, . . . there is every reason to be optimistic about deal making activity in the renewables sector.” Another report adds: “. . . the number of deals to be closed are expected to increase later this year owing to small developers struggling to secure financing.”

With each acquisition or merger, the document libraries of the separate companies need to be brought unto a common framework and indexing system if they are going to be useful. And with each M&A event, document libraries may need to be split or pruned, according to agreed-upon criteria. i2k Connect assists with these tasks for libraries containing millions of documents in many diverse formats. As an example, a large operator acquires assets in certain basins but not all the licensed data. Remediation is required to identify that data. The licensed data appears natively, as images or other file formats, embedded within reports or slide presentations. When you are talking about 40 TB of content, where do you start? i2k Connect uses NLP and computer vision to locate and report in minutes.

Tracking government priorities is an important part of strategic planning. The Biden administration, for example, recently announced a goal:

“… to see hundreds of [offshore wind] turbines installed by 2030, enough to produce 30,000 megawatts, or enough to power 10 million homes. Biden’s proposal aims to support the effort with $3 billion in federal offshore wind loan guarantees and big upgrades to coastal ports. The White House figures the resulting offshore boom could support 44,000 union jobs.”

Also, the current administration is proposing $200 billion for electric vehicle initiatives, which include tax credits of American-made EV purchases.

Managers also need to know what the competition is doing. Investigative reporters are in the business of supplementing the rumors and advance talk with actual fact. For example, a recent article provides details on ExxonMobil’s development of biofuels:

ExxonMobil and Porsche are testing advanced biofuels and renewable, lower-carbon eFuels as part of a new agreement to find pathways toward potential future consumer adoption.

i2k already tracks dozens of online publications to find and classify articles in hundreds of categories. As needed for your own corporate libraries, this set of categories can be expanded, and new classifiers can be learned.


i2k Connect enriches the information you need to manage your business. We have a team with decades of experience in the energy sector and several clients in the oil & gas industry. Specifically, our software can help you transition to more energy efficiency in several relevant ways:

  • Build a single index for millions of files from multiple document libraries
  • Classify documents into common taxonomies, in detail, and quickly reclassify if indexing needs change
  • Detect exact and near duplicates to reduce storage costs and time wasted in reviewing search results
  • Extract and structure data from unstructured sources such as libraries of operational reports in all standard formats (PDF, MS Office, LAS, LIS, DLIS, etc.)
  • Search for specific information or browse to locate all information (from internal libraries or internet new sources and/or within categories already in use)
  • Search for information by geopolitical location or by petro-geographic location
  • Track new technologies, announcements, and proposed legislation
  • Track competitors’ actions
  • Check the facts by starting with reliable sources, blogs, and trusted opinion writers
  • Receive daily or weekly alerts with titles and summaries for newly published information on custom topics

Contact i2k Connect for more information on our software or services to assist you with gaining valuable insights on the data you need.