Raymond Levey and Varun Gowda

Mitigating the Risk of Oil Exploration

Drilling for oil and gas is an expensive endeavor. A dry well represents wasted time and significant financial loss for oil companies. With low crude oil prices, today’s oil exploration companies require relevant, consolidated, high quality geoscientific data in order to make smart drilling decisions.

Raw geoscientific data, largely obtained through various academic and governmental sources, includes hundreds of terabytes of geochemical, sedimentological, paleontological, chronostratigraphic, and geophysical data. This massive amount of data is cumbersome, expensive, and time-consuming for oil companies to gather and analyze, illuminating the industry need for greater access to curated data.

Screenshot from iCORDS

“Geoscientists in the oil and gas industry spend a surprising amount of time gathering data,” explains Raymond Levey, Ph.D., director of the Energy and Geoscience Institute (EGI) at the U. “Often 60 percent of their time is spent collecting data, leaving only 40 percent of their time for analyzing it. We want to dramatically reduce the data collection time for our clients so they can make better-informed decisions faster.”

In response to this market need—and at the request of industry partners—EGI developed and recently launched iCORDS, an easy-to-use cloud-based knowledge platform that facilitates interactive access to both proprietary EGI data and curated publicly available data. iCORDS’ early clients provided feedback on how the software should structure searches and what data would be most relevant.

Varun Gowda, chief technology officer at EGI, explains, “The iCORDS solution has two key technologies: data curation driven by large-scale data science and interactive web-based exploration. We have developed efficient scripts and processes for harmonizing disparate geoscientific data sources into a single, unified database. And we have created a scalable, web-based exploration platform for accessing and exploring geoscientific data.”

Today iCORDS is in use by over 50 global exploration teams including ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron. Using iCORDS to explore their particular geographic focus, geoscientists can interactively sift through terabytes of raw data, including four decades worth of scientific research compiled by EGI.

Screenshot from iCORDS

“What used to take geoscientists months to discover, now takes just a few minutes with iCORDS,” explains Gowda.

The Future of iCORDS

Given the key role it plays in the exploration process, iCORDS is currently securing Series A financing in order to ensure its success and long-term profitability.

Although the cost of drilling a well will continue to be an expensive endeavor, iCORDS will significantly mitigate the exploration risk for the oil and gas industry.

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