We are scientists and technologists at heart, and unsurprisingly our story began in the dusty halls of the cybernetics department of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). It was still early days of the fourth industrial revolution; 2007 was the year of the first iPhone, Facebook had just launched the year before and Uber was still two years out. Few were yet to talk about big data and machine learning on a large scale. At the same time, a NTNU PhD student by the name of Vidar Gunnerud and his professor Bjarne Foss started questioning the existing physics-based simulators as the basis for petroleum production optimization.
“Why not connect to the field data directly” soon became our mantra, and spurred us on a mission to unlock live production data from its confines and use it more extensively. Years of research and development at NTNU combined with access to the industry, made us believe we were really on to something. As a result, Solution Seeker was established in 2013.
Luckily, we obtained our first visionary partners, ConocoPhillips and Neptune Energy (previously GDF Suez), in early 2014. We moved to the basement in Oslo Science Park, dug into the work and sped up our testing and development. Wintershall and Lundin joined our efforts, and we were able to keep digging, learning, pivoting and developing through the oil industry downturn of 2015-2016.
Our product, ProductionCompass AI, started taking shape. The idea of our Compass has always been to create a solution that points out the direction of increased production for our users. We have filled it with solutions to use-cases in deep collaboration with the production teams we support. And when we come up against difficult and complex production challenges, we refuse to throw in the towel – in direct opposition to the popular “fail fast” mentality. Instead, we dig our heels in and dedicate even more effort to developing new technologies, leveraging recent advances in big data and machine learning algorithms. If everyone just fails fast, there will be no innovation and new technology.
The answer to the last industry downturn was effectivization and digitalization, creating a large demand and opportunity for niche deeptech companies like us when activity started picking up again. There is huge potential for increasing production through better utilization of existing data streams, and oil companies are also realizing this. On the tech-development side, we started ramping up our efforts on the transfer learning concept so that our machine learning models can learn across wells. This is a truly game-changing technology for e.g. virtual flow metering. We filed our first patent on the topic in 2020.
Simultaneously we moved into new, beautiful offices in the center of Oslo, with plenty of space to grow. Client list is expanding and we have landed our first international contracts. Three new colleagues joined our team in 2019, finally making our headcount ~15.
The pandemic hits early 2020 and in conjunction with the international oil price war creates huge uncertainty in the market. As travel is restricted and everyone is confined to home-offices, we double-down on our research and even increase our deep work productivity. ProductionCompass AI’s first standalone product module Well Test Optimization is launched and ready for the market.
As the shadow of the pandemic is lifting, multiple studies show that the COVID-19 has increased the urgency of investing in digital transformation globally. Despite the past year’s challenges, the oil and gas industry has clarified its thinking on the need for accelerating digitization, and on how and where it needs to happen. With this backdrop, BCG acquires a stake in Solution Seeker, cementing our partnership. Together, we are offering a truly unique value proposition combining Solution Seeker’s patented data feed and proven use cases with BCGs relentless focus on value and client enablement.
Our Brazilian office takes off with the Mero Digitalization project kick-off in January and three hires in Rio de Janeiro. Headcount ~25.
We are growing and our next steps are productification and internationalization. The future looks bright, and we are excited to keep writing our story in the name of hard-core science and innovation.