Groundbreaking innovation ideas shared at Silicon Valley board meeting

During a recent meeting of ConocoPhillips’ board of directors and executive leadership team in California’s tech-centered Silicon Valley, the company invited a group of early and midcareer professionals to give presentations on their work — important innovations that cover the life cycle of an asset.“The board was treated to a deep dive into technologies that make our business better,” said ConocoPhillips Innovation Manager Dave Mabee.

With its proprietary compressive seismic imaging technology, ConocoPhillips has saved hundreds of millions of dollars shooting and processing seismic data, both onshore and off. “We’re the best in the world at this,” Mabee said.


Chengo Li
Chengbo Li

Compressive seismic imaging

Chengbo Li, staff geophysicist

As the company pursues more complex exploration and development targets, acquiring higher-quality seismic data has become increasingly critical. But getting higher-quality data historically meant incurring significantly higher cost. ConocoPhillips has developed proprietary compressive seismic imaging (CSI) technology that greatly improves image quality while reducing costs, speeding up acquisition and reducing health, safety and environmental risk exposure. Since the introduction of CSI, the amount of seismic data collected and processed has increased tenfold.

Instead of using uniform sampling, which involves collecting data on a regular grid, CSI uses algorithms to optimize the process of selecting nonuniform data collection points. The technology enables geoscientists to reconstruct a higher-quality, more-accurate picture with less data. CSI enables ConocoPhillips to better exploit existing assets and position itself in new exploration plays in a cost-effective and timely manner.


The ABACUS reservoir simulation package allows engineers to complete thousands of reservoir simulations very quickly.


Miranda Meredith
Meredith Miranda

ABACUS: Reservoir modeling 2.0

Meredith miranda, staff reservoir engineer

ABACUS is a sustainable, innovative software platform featuring a suite of proprietary reservoir modeling tools used by engineers to understand reservoir performance and predict recovery. It integrates three important legacy technologies that were developed in-house: model builder, uncertainty manager and reservoir simulator.

The platform enables fit-for-purpose model building, consistent analysis and robust decision-making for exploration and production projects across the life cycle in ConocoPhillips’ global asset portfolio. In Lower 48 and Canada, ABACUS helps accelerate unconventional reservoir learnings to optimize the number of wells, completion design and capital investment. In Alaska, Norway, the U.K. and Asia Pacific, it enables probabilistic forecasting for better prediction of long-range plans.


Data analytics provide drilling engineers with advancements by integrating data and automating key aspects of the process.


Advancing wells analytics to drive continuous improvement

Deena Collins, supervisor, Drilling Engineering
Deena Collins
Deena Collins

Data analytics have paved the way toward automating processes in the office and at the rig site. ConocoPhillips has developed tools built on a centralized database that imports real-time data from foundational sources. The integrated data is then accessed via a robust visualization tool that allows teams to trend and analyze the data.

The next step in the quest toward full rig automation is the trial of software that automates specific drilling operations. ConocoPhillips has partnered with vendors to automate key aspects of the drilling process, including drill pipe connection, directional drilling and drilling parameter optimization.


Reservoir engineers used an analytics approach to completions in the Bakken, using lots of data to address multivariable problems.


Patrick Lambert
Patrick Lambert

Unconventional reservoirs development optimization

Patrick Lambert, senior reservoir engineer,
Central Basin Platform Development (Permian)

As ConocoPhillips continues to invest in unconventional plays, optimizing cost-of-supply will require adjusting development plans to compensate for rapidly changing technological and market conditions. ConocoPhillips’ proprietary, integrated machine learning model, for use in optimizing the development of unconventional reservoir assets, is user-friendly and can be applied directly by petroleum engineers with a moderate level of data science training or by engineers in partnership with data science experts. The model enables asset teams to make better data-driven decisions in a fraction of the time previously required, improving the ability to optimize business results.

Significant cost reductions and improved returns have already been realized based on insights derived from the model. For example, in the Bakken Asset, using machine learning-derived insights has resulted in completions cost-related savings of $40MM in 2018 and projected cost savings of $80MM in 2019-2020. The model will also allow for adjustments to be made to development plans as the cost of services varies in the future, enabling continual optimization.


Robotic process automation, or RPA, frees up people to execute bigger tasks.


Aftab Ahmed
Aftab Ahmed

Emerging technology for Finance: An introduction to robotic process automation

Aftab Ahmed, finance manager,
Emerging Technology

The Emerging Technology for Finance program was formed to explore, evaluate and adopt emerging technologies in ConocoPhillips’ Finance group based on specific use case and business value. While the team looked at many emerging technologies, its primary focus has been robotic process automation (RPA). RPA automates repetitive, rules-based tasks. Benefits include improved scalability and flexibility, increased productivity and accuracy, and shorter cycle times.

During the past year, the team has introduced RPA technology to ConocoPhillips through Finance, completing proofs of concept, conducting a global opportunity assessment and implementing several pilots. They have also partnered with IT to establish a federated operating model and partnered with HR to develop a company-wide training program. A multiyear development program currently underway will automate hundreds of Finance processes and facilitate other functions and businesses in their testing and piloting of RPA. Other use cases are being evaluated across the company.


In the U.K. Southern North Sea, technology innovations have the potential to save as much as $1 billion in well retirement costs around the world.


Andrew Hood
Andrew Hood

Wellbore plug and abandonment: Challenging convention with disruptive technologies

Andrew Hood, engineering supervisor, Well Abandonment (U.K.)

ConocoPhillips U.K. is currently undertaking its largest decommissioning campaign in the Southern North Sea. Adopting a campaign approach has led to major time and cost savings as well as a significant learning curve. As the learning curve started to plateau, the company needed new technologies to progress to the next level of efficiency.

ConocoPhillips is pursuing three potentially game-changing technologies that would dramatically lower the cost of wellbore plug and abandonment (P&A), including multiannuli logging to quickly determine isolation between strings of pipe; novel tools to remove steel, cement and rock to prepare a well for installation of necessary downhole barriers; and next-generation barriers to reduce the cost of permanent barriers. Combined, these three technologies have the potential to help ConocoPhillips cut future P&A costs in half.


“Making technology and innovation the centerpiece of the board meeting really says something about the commitment of our company to the innovation capacity of our people and their belief that being an industry leader in innovation will help ConocoPhillips maintain a lasting competitive advantage,” Mabee said. “We have smart people doing lots of cool things.”