Google announces that it will no longer create AI tools to accelerate the extraction of oil and gas. The announcement was made a day after Greenpeace published a critical report on the role that Google, Microsoft and Amazon play in the oil industry.
Google told Forbes that the company no longer builds new custom AI/ML algorithms for the oil industry. The technology was used to speed up the oil extraction process and predict where to find crude oil. The tech giant stated they would honour existing contracts with companies. Oil and gas companies can also still rely on Google’s cloud services for their IT and data processes.
Google’s decision is most likely directly related to Greenpeace’s report. In the report, Greenpeace accuses Google, Microsoft and Amazon of causing more damage to the environment because of their cooperation with large oil companies. The tech companies have contracts with Shell, BP and ExxonMobil, among others. At a time when oil and gas revenues were decreasing, companies like Google were called in to help reduce production costs. They helped these companies to extract gas and oil faster, while these tech giants themselves have goals to reduce their own carbon emissions.
In the report, Greenpeace wrote that “all three tech companies appear to be aware of the disconnect between their stated climate goals and the real world climate impact of aiding the fossil fuel sector in becoming more productive and efficient”.
Amazon did not comment on the report and simply referred to a statement on its website which said that ‘the energy industry should have access to the same technologies as other industries’. The company also said it wants to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.
Microsoft commented that the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy was a complicated matter. But the company still aims to be carbon negative by 2030. This statement was criticised by Greenpeace as Microsoft’s contract with ExxonMobil “could lead to carbon emissions of more than 20 percent of Microsoft’s annual carbon footprint.