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Baker Hughes, C3 AI, Microsoft, Shell team up on "Open AI Energy Initiative" (it's not free, though).

"Data volumes and velocities dwarf the largest ERP implementations"

Baker Hughes -- a major oilfield and energy services company -- and industry-specific AI application specialist C3 AI have teamed up with Shell and Microsoft to launch the Open AI Energy Initiative (OAI): an "open ecosystem" of AI tools for the energy and process industries.

Open does not mean OSS or free: the tools are being offered commercially via Baker Hughes, but the company said it is inviting more partners to help build out an ecosystem of open, standardised APIs and "pluggable interface models" that support solutions from operators, independent software vendors, equipment manufacturers, and service providers.

The launch comes as energy companies (and energy services providers like Baker Hughes) face the challenge of exploiting myriad data sources that range from disconnected historical datasets to high speed sensor streams from Industrial IoT devices, at stupendous volumes and velocities.

As one Baker Hughes developer (now at Shell) Alex Iankoulski has noted, this is no easy task: "Industrial data volumes and velocities dwarf even the largest ERP implementations... Analytics silos consist of complex analytics written over several decades in multiple programming languages and runtime environments. The need to orchestrate these analytics to work together to produce a valuable outcome makes the challenge doubly hard."

Open AI Energy Initiative comes as IIoT deployments boom

The new offering is built on a partnership Baker Hughes has with C3 AI and comes as Industrial IoT deployment booms across the energy sector, opening up the opportunity to develop a wide range of preventative maintenance and other services built around machine learning algorithms trained on IIoT data. Microsoft is providing cloud compute via Azure, Shell is providing data and models for specific equipment like control valves.

The aim is to be able to run AI failure detection models across critical equipment in oil and gas processes, including rotating equipment, control valves, and subsea electrical submersible pumps: "Operators can integrate domain-specific libraries, physics-based insights, tailored workflows, and a monitoring database of more than 1,500 assets", said Baker Hughes.

"Digital technologies and AI are helping us improve our core business today and build the energy businesses of the future. Over the last few years, we have been working with C3 AI to scale our AI-based predictive maintenance solutions to reduce costs and improve the productivity, reliability, and performance of our assets,” said Shell CTO Yuri Sebregts.

“We are monitoring more than 5,200 pieces of equipment using machine learning across upstream and downstream manufacturing as well as integrated gas assets. We are excited to take this capability to market and want to develop an open ecosystem where others can offer AI solutions to help improve reliability across the industry.”

Microsoft is committed to the transformation of the energy sector and supporting solutions like the Open AI Energy Initiative, which are contributing to the realization of these transformation goals,” said Microsoft Vice President of Energy Darryl Willis. “Digital technology is helping key industry areas such as plant reliability and maintenance, and Microsoft’s participation in the Open AI Energy Initiative will further advance the transition to a net-zero emissions future.”

“The Open AI Energy Initiative is an early but clear reflection of the direction the market is heading,” said Kevin Prouty, IDC group vice president, energy and manufacturing insights. “With this already-established alliance of leading organizations, including C3 AI, Shell, Baker Hughes, and Microsoft, the OAI is poised to single-handedly establish the ecosystem of enterprise AI for the energy industry.”

Baker Hughes added: "OAI is a broader, open ecosystem that makes it possible for customers and partners to commercially make available domain-specific solutions… OAI is also a springboard for future energy industry ecosystem launches, including in the areas of process optimization, sustainability, asset integrity, scheduling optimization, and supply chain.We invite third parties to join the OAI ecosystem."

See also: A major new ESG report casts light on complex market: Our digested read.