BP’s ventures capital branch BP Ventures has invested £5m in an artificial intelligence (AI) firm in an effort to bolster the company’s AI and digital capabilities in its upstream offshore business.

The investment in Houston-based technology start-up Belmont Technology is to support BP’s ongoing work exploring the application of cognitive computing and machine learning in its global oil and gas business.

Belmont Technology has developed a cloud-based geoscience platform using artificial intelligence. This platform provides BP with unique “knowledge-graphs”, created by interpreting geophysics, geology, historic and reservoir project information from BP.

The AI intuitively links that information together, identifying new workflows and connections to create a robust image of BP’s subsurface assets. The oil company can then consult the data in the knowledge-graph, with the AI using neural networks to perform simulations and interpret results.

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By GlobalData

BP group head of technology David Eyton said: “This AI-based platform, which we’ve nicknamed Sandy, is expected to unlock critical data for our subsurface engineers at a much accelerated pace. Our experts will ask it questions about our reservoirs like, ‘What factors control production in the Chirag field?’ Sandy will then interpret our data, including mapping out many more scenarios than are currently constructed, helping us make faster, better informed upstream decisions.

“This investment helps drive forward our digital strategy and further underpins our upstream operations with cutting edge technology.”

BP’s investment will enable Belmont Technology to extend Sandy’s capabilities, accelerate its deployment and expand Belmont’s workforce.

Belmont CEO Jean-Marie Laigle said: “We are extremely honoured to welcome BP as an investor as it is a validation of our approach and technology. We are excited by the prospect of deploying a cutting-edge cognitive AI solution within BP.”

“Our technology enables real-time thinking for subsurface engineers, helping transform the way teams work, analyse data, understand situations and generate novel ideas.”