Wave9: The First Artificial Intelligence for Oil Contamination at Well Sites


The oil and gas industry has many operational protocols in place, including staff that drive from oil well to oil well each day to ensure that there are no problems. Ian Cunningham and his team of seven at Wave9 saw an opportunity to make this process far more efficient by using artificial intelligence and cameras to monitor the wells on a continuous basis.

“Staff can generally service forty to sixty wells, but they only see them once a day. This is a huge risk for a company if something stops operations or there is an environmental issue like a leak. There is a lot that can happen outside the time someone checks on a well that could have a significant effect on the company’s costs or production,” shares Cunningham.

The Wave9 team built a system that continuously monitors a field of wells and allows staff to identify problems from an app, rather than by physically driving to the location. At each site, there is a camera that sends periodic updates. The photos are sent through an artificial intelligence model that flags any issues.

“If there is a problem, an alarm alerts the operator so they know the wells that need immediate attention. The AI is an assistant, you still need the operator to make the final call, an operator would typically assess the severity of the situation and adjust his schedule accordingly” Cunningham adds, “People are not losing their jobs, they are just doing their jobs more efficiently.”

As there is a lot of pressure on oil companies to be more cost-efficient, the team aims to allow operators to service more wells without adding more staff. Cunningham says, “Even if they are managing the same number of wells, the company can mitigate possible damages, increase production by reducing operational downtime, and they now have the option to scale up without additional costs.”

Wave9’s systems are sold under an enterprise product and service contracts. By expanding the number of wells monitored by an operator, clients are generally seeing a return on investment after six months.

“We worked with a company to pilot the technology during the wintertime. We wanted to make sure the equipment could survive our harsh winters. The system did very well and they have now purchased units that are making them very happy,” says Cunningham. “They have had a couple of call-outs to fix a leak before it got worse. The system is doing its job in the real world.”

As the Regina-based team grows their user-base, they intend to maintain their base in Saskatchewan. “There is also a completely different and much more supportive environment for tech companies compared to the past. It’s also very important for us to be working closely with our customers,” says Cunningham.

Wave9 Team

Founding Team: Ian Cunningham, Parisa Keikhosravani, Ricardo Mendizabal, Barrett Ramstead 

Incorporation: April 2018

Team members: 7

Website: www.wave9.co