Artificial Intelligence: Shell’s Initiative to Bring Employees Upto Speed on AI

February 14, 2020 | Artificial Intelligence, News

Royal Dutch Shell, the oil and gas major, has offered free online courses in AI to its employees.

About 2,000 employees at Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) have shown interest in, or been sounded out by the company, in online AI courses offered by Udacity. (WSJ)

The courses are free for employees, though they can cost as much as $400 per month for a normal individual customer at Udacity. However, it is not known what fees Udacity is charging Shell for the enterprise AI course. The company describes the amount spent on AI training as “material and strategic.”

Moreover, employees such as geophysicists, petroleum engineers, and chemists, can take self-paced courses during working hours.

Shell’s AI advances in the workplace

Shell had about 280 AI projects underway as of December 2019.

The company has installed about 50,000 sensors at its massive Pernis refinery in Rotterdam to monitor equipment and operating conditions. A machine learning application processes the data from the sensors to generate potential equipment failures from 4 to 75 days. This has, therefore, reduced downtime and inventory of spares.

In another application, it is using AI to clean up data from seismic surveys and thereby create clearer images of rock formations on the seafloor. Shell was able to innovate machine learning algorithms that filtered out the noise in the images due to factors such as underwater currents. Therefore, Shell could cut the time needed to obtain clear images by 80%.

“Artificial intelligence enables us to process the vast quantity of data across our businesses to generate new insights which can keep us ahead of the competition,” said Yuri Sebregts, Shell’s chief technology officer, in an email to the WSJ.

How AI-enabled employees can help

Employees could use their AI training to identify where there is scope to reduce carbon emissions or to anticipate equipment failures.

Udacity AI courses are available to Shell employees for reinforcement learning, computer vision, data analysis, and natural language processing.

Moreover, these “nanodegrees” will help employees play a meaningful role in Shell’s goal to lower its carbon footprint.

Related Story:  Is the Oil and Gas Industry Slow on the AI Uptake?                                                  

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