Google says it will no longer build custom artificial intelligence tools to accelerate oil and gas extraction, separating it from cloud computing rivals Microsoft and Amazon. The announcement followed a Greenpeace report on Tuesday documenting how the three tech giants are using AI and computing power to help oil companies locate and use oil and gas supplies in the United States and around the world.
The environmentalist group says Amazon, Microsoft and Google have undermined their own climate change commitments by partnering with major oil companies, including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil, to look for new technology to get more oil and gas from the ground to get. But the group applauded Google on Tuesday for being a step away from those deals.
“While Google still has a number of obsolete contracts with oil and gas companies, we welcome this indication from Google that it will no longer build custom solutions for upstream oil and gas extraction,” said Elizabeth Jardim, Greenpeace USA senior campaign campaign. Google said it will honor all existing contracts with its customers, but has not specified which companies.
According to the Greenpeace report, Microsoft appears to be at the forefront of most oil and contracts, “with AI capabilities at all stages of oil production.” Amazon’s contracts are more focused on pipelines, shipping, and fuel storage, according to the report. Their tools have been deployed to accelerate shale extraction, especially from the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico. Some contracts have sparked internal employee protests that encourage their companies to do more to combat climate change.
Amazon declined to comment on the Greenpeace report, but pointed to the wording on its website that said “the energy industry should have access to the same technologies as other industries.” Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.