October 23, 2020

High-tech matchmaking in the oilpatch improves supply chain logistics

Innovative new platform also reduces environmental waste caused by inaccurate data

 

Validere software at work

Buyers, sellers and transporters of petroleum products will be able to find each other more easily and efficiently thanks to an innovative digital platform being developed by a tech startup called Validere with offices in Calgary and Toronto. Validere was recently ranked as one of the top B2B startups in Canada and is an example of how the responsible development of Alberta natural resources drives cutting-edge technology jobs.

Validere’s artificial intelligence (AI) solutions are targeted at increasing the global competitiveness of Alberta’s resource industry by transforming how products are moved and distributed.

The development and use of Validere’s Edge platform helps the Alberta oil and gas sector to continue leading the industry in identifying improvements that benefit everyone, says the company. The Edge platform simplifies the decision-making process for market participants. It reduces inefficient transport and emissions by identifying the optimal destination for specific qualities of petroleum products, reduces waste and increases the value received for Alberta products by matching them with the right buyer.

Alberta Innovates provided $200,000 from its new program called Digital Innovation in Clean Energy (DICE) to accelerate development of Validere’s platform – with added benefits for the environment as well as companies’ bottom line.

“We’re proud to work in partnership with energy clients on accelerating efficiencies through technology, which in turn drives margins and reduces the environmental footprint of the industry,” says Nouman Ahmad, company co-founder and CEO.

“The increasing demand for [digital] solutions like these is evident from the traction we’re seeing with Validere Edge, a platform that informs optimal product flow and marketing decisions.”

Creating tech jobs

The DICE program provides funding to support projects that align with Alberta Innovates’ go-forward strategy – to support data-enabled innovation and use digital technologies for business transformation in Alberta’s traditional sectors while growing a skilled workforce to ensure sustainable economic growth. The launch of DICE funding opened the door for many partnerships in the digital oilfield sphere, including Validere.

In addition to money-saving efficiencies for industry and environmental benefits, Validere hired four Alberta-based interns related to this project and created three new, permanent tech jobs in Calgary for highly qualified skilled personnel. There are additional requirements for 13 more employees as Edge is built out over the next few year, plus potential for future growth.

The tech-related jobs and intellectual property created, as well as additional Validere initiatives, help support the economic diversification of Alberta. Validere has doubled its staff in Calgary since the DICE application was submitted, with eight employees currently. The company recently moved into a larger office in Sun Life, one of the recently renovated office towers catering to the wave of new technology companies in Calgary. In the last 12 months Validere has hired and retained 24 new full-time employees across Canada, with many roles in Toronto as well – an example of how Alberta natural resources support technology jobs across the country.

The DICE project has a total value of $675,000, with Validere investing the remaining amount ($475,000). The project has allowed Validere to speed up its product development to more efficiently serve its target market and meet the needs of its clients. These product updates enabled Validere to onboard over 300 sites in Alberta on the platform to date. Validere has accelerated many of the tools that allow clients to rapidly see options, including a feature that allows clients to analyze quality of petroleum products across all their sites.

Validere continues to add clients and hopes to be in a position to serve the entire province by summer 2021, and also to find the most efficient markets for Canadian commodities in the United States and beyond.

“The receptiveness of Alberta companies to Validere Edge and other innovative technologies is just another example that the province is a world leader in responsible resource development,” Ahmad says.

“This support from Alberta Innovates is allowing us to accelerate our Validere platform to move products most efficiently and reduce emissions for the benefit of our clients and Albertans.”

How it works 

 Validere employs machine learning in its Edge platform to connect industry data. It tracks marketing and logistics opportunities, and matches buyers with the grade of oil or condensate they require from sellers. The platform utilizes data from several public sources and has mapped the options available to the industry to support optimal real-time decisions.

Condensate is lighter crude that is produced by many of the liquids-rich gas producers in Canada. Crude and condensate volumes across North America do not have uniform qualities. A barrel of oil must meet several specifications related to sulfur content, density, etc., and the majority of Canadian production in its original form doesn’t actually qualify. This results in significant economic and environmental losses when barrels need to be treated, transported to new locations or shut in if they are off-spec anywhere along the system and mixed with new qualities to qualify.