Houston oilfield service company Baker Hughes has entered into a three-way agreement and partnership to boost the adoption of artificial intelligence technology in the oil and natural gas industry.
Baker Hughes, tech giant Microsoft and Silicon Valley artificial intelligence company C3.ai have signed an agreement to work together to develop and deploy the cost-cutting technology for industry customers across the globe, the companies announced on Tuesday morning.
“Companies that adopt this technology will be the next Amazon and those that don’t adopt will be the next Sears,” C3.ai founder and CEO Tom Siebel told the Houston Chronicle.
The agreement comes less than six months after Baker Hughes and C3.ai launched a joint venture to deploy artificial intelligence in the oil patch. The two will now be augmenting the technology they developed using Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure.
Seeking to get ahead of the coming digital transformation in the oil and natural gas industry, Baker Hughes CEO Lorenzo Simonelli said artificial intelligence will make the oil field safer and more reliable. The partnership between the three companies, he said, allows each company to focus on their individual areas of expertise.
“It’s very tough for an industrial company to be a software company and it’s very tough for a software company to have the domain experience of an industrial company, and it’s very tough to be at the cutting edge of artificial intelligence,” Simonelli said. “When you bring together these three companies, you get a capability that helps our customers be successful. That’s what is so powerful about this combination.”
Currently making roughly a tenth of its $23 billion in annual revenue from digital products, Baker Hughes is investing into artificial intelligence and other technologies ahead of a global energy transition where natural gas and tech-dependent renewables such as wind and solar will make up a larger percentage of the power generation mix.
Baker Hughes, Microsoft and C3.ai are betting that artificial intelligence and cloud computing will allow oil and natural gas customers to reduce the amount of computer equipment needed on site by storing and processing data on distant servers in addition to making operations more efficient, better predicting maintenance needs, improving safety and lowering costs.
European oil major Royal Dutch Shell has already signed up as a customer for C3.ai’s artificial intelligence platform on Azure. As an early adopter of the technology, Shell is using artificial intelligence to monitor its operations around the world to optimize flows of oil and natural gas as well as better predict when equipment needs repairs.
“We fundamentally believe that artificial intelligence is the technology that will allow the energy industry to become sustainable, safer and cleaner,” Microsoft Executive Vice President Judson Althoff told the Houston Chronicle.
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