Meet the winners of Origin's 'Wells of Knowledge' challenge

Unearthed-SIG Machine Learning-Origin

This dynamic duo has taken home both award categories in this highly competitive challenge seeking recommendations and insights for optimising Origin's drilling process.

Sam Bost of SIG Machine Learning was already rising in the ranks of the Unearthed innovator community, having taken out the Future Data prize in the 2020 ExploreSA: Gawler Challenge - an attempt to use public data sets to identify targets for mineral exploration in the Gawler Craton of South Australia. Fast forward to October of the same year, and Sam has returned to the pitch with a friend, Andrew Dean. Together, they have created two submissions for Origin's Wells of Knowledge challenge, and in an Unearthed first, taken out both prizes.

Pictured above, Andrew Dean (left), Sam Bost (right), and Sadie (floof mascot), have won both categories for the Wells of Knowledge challenge, for their separate submissions that provided recommendations to optimise the rate of penetration in gas drilling operations.

  • Data-Driven Learnings Prize A$8,000 - Recognises the submission with the best use of data and evidence-based insights and recommendations  
  • Innovation Award A$2,000 - Recognises the submission with the most innovative and impactful solution.

Origin noted that both submissions delivered the "most impactful, clear recommendations on how Origin can increase rates of penetration [for drilling operations]."

Let's hear from the team:

This isn't the first prize that SIG Machine Learning has taken home, how are these awards benefiting you personally and professionally?

Andrew and I were so excited to receive the news about the challenge results. We’re incredibly grateful for the awards we’ve received, and they have been really valuable to help us know when we’re on the right track.

Personally, Andrew and I are great friends, and this was an opportunity to bring Andrew into the SIG team, and work on a project together, for a company and industry that we’re so grateful for. In terms of the prize money, I think there were some promises made to our partners along the way if we were lucky enough to win, as they were incredibly supportive of us putting in some extra hours to deliver these submissions!

Professionally, these prizes have really helped us connect with industry and build meaningful relationships. As an analytics startup, the Unearthed challenges and awards have been fantastic to help us better understand where we are well placed to deliver simple, scalable analytical solutions.

Origin gave very detailed feedback on your submissions - as an innovator, do you find this helpful? Actionable?

They sure did, Origin is filled with great people and we found their feedback really valuable. Having worked in Origin’s Drilling and Completions (D&C) team, Andrew and I are fairly familiar with a range of real-time drilling monitoring/analytics products for CSG drilling and tried to build something that would be simple and valuable for driller’s out on site, and engineers in Brissy. We were grateful that our approach was appreciated, and we’re excited to build upon the existing tools.

We also valued the constructive feedback, particularly around sharing our statistical analysis and feature engineering/model validation processes. Incredibly important that all data processing and feature engineering is validated from a technical and analytical perspective! We’d look forward to sharing more details and expanding on the analysis provided in the report.

What are your hopes for these winning submissions? Where could they lead if fulfilling their full potential?

The hope is to get the opportunity to continue building upon these submissions and be able to dedicate more time and resourcing to refine, scale and deploy these products.

For the mineral exploration model, we’re currently looking for collaboration and exploration partnership opportunities. We’re looking to continue building upon the knowledge-rich data-driven approach through industry engagements.

Likewise, we’re looking to build upon the drilling analytics products, through engaging internal drilling personnel, to truly understand how to adapt the existing models and platform as it stands to be of most value to drilling operations.

What did you find to be the most challenging aspect of this challenge?

The most challenging aspect was working in ‘isolation’, without engaging Origin and getting feedback from technical and analytics experts across their business while building the products. Working with people, coming together to identify improvement opportunities, that’s our favorite part!

At a high level, we’re really happy with the workflow, insights and models delivered, but recognise that it’s through collaborating and working together that we can identify opportunities to accelerate the delivery of different solutions, and gear the products towards maximizing value for their business.

What encouraged you to apply for this challenge?

Andrew and I both made our way through the Origin Graduate Program (it’s really good), and got exposure to working across operations, technical and analytical teams. We thought it’d be a great opportunity to apply analytics skills to drilling operations and hopefully get the opportunity to work with people who have been valued mentors and colleagues over the years.

Also, after the mineral exploration award, we thought it’d be nice to get a win on ‘home turf’ (in the oil and gas sector).

Where did you meet each other? Are there any interesting takeaways from your collaboration?

Andrew and I met back at uni, we both studied Petroleum Engineering at the Australian School of Petroleum in Adelaide. We were separated by a year and we really got to know each other after bumping into each other while both on holiday's in Japan. You form a real bond when you go go-karting through Tokyo dressed as Super Mario characters. Nowadays, a couple of years on, we work together on a range of analytics and technical projects together, primarily in oil and gas.

Did you work on this together, remotely? If so, what tools did you use to connect and contribute to the projects at hand?

We are fortunate to live about 100m from each other, I can actually see Andrew’s apartment from my apartment… Which really helped trial different ideas and analyse results in a short timeframe.

I’d love to say we had highly robust and professional networking pathways… While we did have a Microsoft teams channel and planner configured, most bright ideas came about while down at the local coffee shop. We wanted to really have fun with this challenge and spent most of our time socially distanced around our home offices.

On the technical site, to deliver the modelling solutions, we have Azure virtual machines, which we configured with the environment and compute requirements for the data and modelling techniques we included in the challenge. Having these machines configured, and following a product delivery pipeline we've set up at SIG, enabled us to iterate efficiently through some different ideas (and as always, have some fun along the way).

Do you have any public comments for the innovator community, and/or for Origin?

I think our biggest takeaway is it’s really valuable to build products with the end-users in mind. We often say ‘built by engineers, for engineers’ (or for geologists, in the case of mineral exploration!), which is a good way of expressing that we like to build products that we’d like to use ourselves. We’ve spent the last few years building engineering competencies, and working on the other end of the scale, and it’s really valuable if you’re able to be flexible and adapt solutions to individual teams and organisations as you go.

Thanks again to Unearthed and Origin for facilitating the Wells of Knowledge challenge!

In the words of Andrew, "when’s the next challenge?".

Read also: The Human Hurdle to Automation

Unearthed Solutions is an open innovation platform, committed to optimising sustainability in the energy and resources sector through the power of the crowd.

If you have enquiries regarding Origin's Wells of Knowledge challenge or would like to host a challenge of your own, contact [email protected].