Story at a glance

  • Google stated that it will no longer develop AI devices for fossil fuel drilling.
  • The company underscored its efforts after a report outlined the deals several Big Tech firms made with oil companies.

Google issued a statement saying that the tech company will no longer develop artificial intelligence (AI) software and tools for oil and gas drilling operations.

Google’s statement was made in early May, but reiterated after advocacy organization Greenpeace published a report about branches of major tech companies, including Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, that have made deals with oil and gas companies like Exxon and BP, despite their individual pledges to help mitigate climate change through sustainable operations. 

Originally stated to CUBE, a Google spokesperson told Medium's OneZero that the company “will not … build custom A.I./ML algorithms to facilitate upstream extraction in the oil and gas industry.”

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In a larger statement, a spokesperson said that in 2019, Google Cloud’s revenue from oil and gas was roughly $65 million, which amounted to less than 1 percent of all Google Cloud revenues, and decreased by about 11 percent when overall revenue grew by 53 percent. 

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Cited in the statement, HG Insights data suggests that oil and gas sectors will spend $1.3 billion in 2020 on cloud services, and Google Cloud is only a small percentage of this total spend. 

“We are continuing to see great traction with renewable energy providers,” the statement read, explaining the company is “...building and sharing custom A.I. models and algorithms with several renewable energy companies and are also taking algorithms that we use to make Google’s own data centers highly efficient and providing them to make buildings more energy efficient for instance.”

Greenpeace told The Hill in a statement that it is happy to see progress being made. 


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“While Google still has legacy contracts with oil and gas firms that we hope they will terminate, we welcome Google’s move to no longer create custom solutions for upstream oil and gas extraction,” Elizabeth Jardim, senior corporate campaigner for Greenpeace USA, said to reporters.

Jardim added that the organization hopes Microsoft and Amazon will be quick to make the same commitments. 

Amazon has recently made multiple pledges to help the environment, including donating money to preserve the Appalachian Forest in North America, and has a goal of becoming net carbon zero by 2040. 

Similarly, Microsoft has reportedly been running carbon neutral for about seven years, including renewable energy credits, and also invests in sustainable energy projects. Google, however, reports having the highest sustainable energy portfolio across the three tech companies and runs energy-efficient data centers.


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Published on May 21, 2020