Microsoft, Baker Hughes announce artificial intelligence partnership for oil and gas industry

One exec called the alliance "a complete game-changer for the industry."

Artificial intelligence can help companies increase their efficiency, reduce their carbon footprint and help keep workers safe, according to engineering experts.

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Now, Microsoft is partnering with energy industry tech company Baker Hughes and AI developer C3.ai to bring enterprise AI technology to the energy industry via its Azure cloud computing platform. The companies said their alliance would allow customers to streamline the adoption of AI designed to address issues like inventory, energy management, predictive maintenance and equipment reliability.

"For the energy industry, this is a time of significant transformation and forward-thinking companies are exploring how to leverage technology to make their operations cleaner, safer and more efficient," said Judson Athoff, EVP of Microsoft’s worldwide commercial business, in a press release.

For example, Shell has already been using AI in drilling to boost productivity while cutting costs, according to The Institution of Engineering and Technology, a U.K.-based industry group. The company has also tested using AI predictive analytics to predict when maintenance is needed on some equipment.

Bonga Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, Nigeria. (Credit: Shell International)

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Jay Crotts, Shell Group CIO, said Shell "supports the aim" of the AI alliance.

"Baker Hughes is one of our long-standing and valued partners in oilfield services and software development, and we use the C3.ai platform on Microsoft Azure to accelerate digital transformation across our business, helping to improve overall operations," Crotts said. "The new technologies being developed will be critical as we all need to work together to reduce the net carbon footprint of the products and solutions that we put into society."

Thomas M. Siebel, CEO of C3.ai, called the move toward AI for oil and gas "a massive market shift."

"With Microsoft's global reach and horizontal cloud platform, Baker Hughes' technology domain expertise and C3.ai’s industrial AI capabilities, organizations can rapidly improve core business operations and better serve customers with AI-enabled products and services," Siebel said. "This strategic alliance is a complete game-changer for the industry."

HOW ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS TAKING OVER OUR WORLD

Of course, AI is still a developing field, and it hasn't been without its growing pains. Tech experts have accused the AI algorithm behind the Apple Card of having a bias against women after some men reported receiving higher credit limits than their wives. And experts have warned that advances in AI could lead to 200,000 job cuts in the next decade.

But Lorenzo Simonelli, chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes, said the AI alliance's technology will help companies reduce risk and improve performance.

"The industry is adopting technologies that help manage the challenges and opportunities associated with the energy transition," Simonelli said.

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