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Increasing the Understanding of Coding in Oil and Gas

As we move into the world of machine learning and artificial intelligence, it is increasingly important that geoscientists gain a better understanding of coding and how it can be used in the oil and gas industry. Jo Bagguley from the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) tells us about an innovative approach to help improve this understanding: the coding ‘hackathon’.
This article appeared in Vol. 16, No. 2 - 2019

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Increasing Understanding of Coding in Oil and Gas: Time for a Hackathon!

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is an event where people come together to try and solve problems, usually in small teams. The OGA’s hackathons have involved looking at solving subsurface problems using coding, but the approach can be applied to pretty much anything.

What gave you the idea to hold these?

It was actually my boss’s idea! Since the OGA formed, we have been working towards making data more readily available to industry and academia, and to enable people to get the skills they need to apply data science and analytics to that data. We worked with Agile* to deliver free geocomputing training courses and they also helped us with the first two public subsurface hackathon events to be run in the UK.

Who are they aimed at?

The events are aimed at geoscientists and data scientists at any level of expertise in their field and attract complete beginners and those with much more experience in coding. The key is to bring the different abilities together to find ways of improving subsurface workflows or solving subsurface problems.

What do participants hope to gain from attendance?

Having attended a couple of these events as a complete coding novice, I certainly got an appreciation of the value to be obtained through bringing both the geoscience and data science skill sets together. From a geoscience perspective, participants can hope to gain an increased understanding of coding and how they can apply it in their day-to-day subsurface workflows. It is also a great place to meet like-minded people and form a network of people you can connect with for future learning and problem solving. The events are pretty intense in terms of working towards a solution within a short timeframe, but they are also a lot of fun.

What have you discovered as a result of holding these?

We’ve discovered that there is a huge network of subsurface professionals who are keen to build their own skills and embrace the change that data science can bring to the way we work, including gaining better insight from our data. The energy for this is enormous and it has a reasonable amount of momentum, thanks to the efforts of organizations like Agile. The key is to ensure that it’s harnessed and applied to the benefit of our industry.

Will there be more in the future? The OGA currently does not have any plans to host more events but we hope that individuals might use their new connections to keep the ball rolling and maybe even host their own events within their organizations.

*Agile Scientific are a data analytics and training company which specializes in subsurface machine learning and integrated subsurface interpretation.

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