Written by Carter Haydu, for the Daily Oil Bulletin
White Whale Analytics Ltd.’s latest machine-learning technology, DeepSea, centres around well production analysis that can accurately forecast estimated ultimate recovery of more than 10,000 wells in under three minutes.
“Forecasts include both gas and condensate over an arbitrary period of time, and this can also autonomously group for plant level production,” said Robert Mereau, chief executive officer. “This technology also monitors model residuals in real time, notifying engineers when wells behave abnormally, and this often leads to an immediate revenue capture. White Whale is happy to demonstrate this product using data pulled from public sources.”
Basically, according to Mereau, White Whale’s off-the-shelf solution is about time saved for customers, not only in terms of this application, but in its deployment, which can occur within 48 hours. White Whale can deploy the DeepSea approach across conventional and unconventional production environments, including hydraulic fracking and SAGD.
“When we’re doing all these type curves, we can do a whole bunch of wells, and each well has its own curve,” he said, adding it would take weeks for an engineer going through all the different spreadsheets, scrubbing it manually, in order to submit a forecast with an accuracy not even on par with what White Whale can do in minutes. “And so, time savings is one advantage, accuracy increasing is another, and then there’s revenue capture.”
The machine-learning technology can connect to an arbitrary dataset or database. White Whale then automatically cleans the data, drawing a curve through all the different quality metrics to determine good models. The solution gets rid of all the bad data, providing a curve for a defined period of time to accurately forecast condensate, for example.
“We have public data, and when we work with a company we’ll have access to its actual data, which is a lot higher resolution. Public data is typically just gas, and its monthly-based, whereas when we work with a company we will go through the data provider, and we actually partner with one of the big data providers, which has something like 80 per cent of the wells in the world — millions of wells worth of data.”
Better than big
Large technology companies might be trying to offer similar services to what White Whale does in the energy sector, noted Mereau, but they simply cannot compare with a small tech firm on the rise, forced to out-compete in terms of cost and technology stack, customer service and timelines.
“Once a company goes with White Whale, they never really go back,” he said. “We were forced to be adaptable in order to do whatever the customer really, really wants — to do it on time and at an affordable rate. It’s the only option you have when you’re going against deeply-entrenched technology companies that are used to $100 million contracts, at five years minimum.”
The large competitors do not build trust through a client-based product such as does White Whale’s solution, Mereau noted. Instead, he said, big tech firms will often simply throw money at the problem. “Our company has grown organically, because everything we’ve done has been validated.”
What’s in a name…
The name ‘White Whale’ has more than one meaning behind it, according to the company’s cofounder and CEO. For one, the name originally served as an actual code name among others, such as ‘Piggy Green’ and ‘Eagle Red’, as company pioneers were writing their original computer code.
“We always had the animal-colour theme,” Mereau said, adding ‘White Whale’ is also a metaphor, popularized in Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, referring to an endless pursuit or obsession. “What it really comes down to is that the white whale has its own sort of mystique, and it could mean something different to everyone, and each person knows what the white whale means to [him or her].
“Everyone has a white whale, and that is what [the company’s moniker] has come to mean. It can take on many meanings, which is part of the reason why I like the mystique behind the name. It’s because it can mean something different for everyone, whereas a lot of companies have their name, it has its meaning, and that’s it.”
Bright days ahead
Incorporated in 2015, White Whale has built all of its solutions as a direct result of actual contracts, Mereau said, meaning it has grown organically, only building solutions for which clients would be willing to pay. As for its latest oil-and-gas solution, it has just been out for around two months. “This is our latest and greatest technology stack that has been released, and so it’s our latest solution.”
The company can simulate all possible production scenarios at the field and well-level, generating recommended setpoints to achieve optimal outcomes for clients. With DeepSea, White Whale provides a comprehensive short-term and long-term forecasting tool for all reservoir variables, helping organizations prepare for the future. The tool can discover and detect unique insights in production data, saving on costs and preventing operational downtime.
While the tech firm’s vision for the future obviously is to build on its latest solution, White Whale sees this as a platform that could do anything, including working with completions data, log data or something else. Quite simply: The possibilities seem endless when there is a potential for 10,000 times the time savings.
Mereau added: “We build in solutions that scale up to everybody. When we build something and keep learning, it’s basically based on all the oil and gas companies working alongside us, and all having different requests. We can draw a big Venn diagram of what everyone actually wants, and what are the problems that we’re seeing more and more. What we’re able to do is we’re able to take all this core information and start to build out that core product.”