Suncor Energy CEO Mark Little’s vision of Suncor 4.0 took a step forward on Tuesday with the announcement of a new multi-year strategic alliance with Microsoft Canada.
Suncor has selected Microsoft as its strategic cloud provider and says it will move towards cloud-based computing with Microsoft Azure as a preferred cloud platform.
The move to Azure is expected to enable the rapid deployment of new technologies to improve safety and productivity through artificial intelligence, machine learning, enhanced automation, and Industrial IoT and visualization, Suncor said in a statement.
“Although we are an industry leader in many respects, we still have much to learn in the digital space, which is why we’re working with a number of organizations including Microsoft to challenge us,” said Suncor CEO Mark Little.
“Similar to how we partner with and learn from innovators across our physical value chain, we’re choosing to partner with the experts in digital innovation.”
Through the strategic alliance with Microsoft, Suncor said it expects to better improve employee and customer experiences across its business, from front line workers in industrial settings to gas station attendants at Petro-Canada gas and EV stations, to office workers across the company.
“Digital technologies will be a means to draw superior insights from data and will open new ways to drive improved economic, social and environmental performance,” the company said.
In September, Suncor competitor Imperial Oil announced it is “taking action to be a leader in advancing digital and AI technology across the value chain,” with a two-year agreement with the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) to help develop its in-house machine learning capabilities.
Amii is one of three centres of excellence in Canada’s $125-million national AI Strategy.
Amii will provide Imperial with business guidance and scientific mentorship on a range of applied artificial intelligence projects aimed at more effectively recovering oil and gas, reducing environmental impacts and improving workforce safety, the companies said.
Experts will help Imperial define and validate machine learning opportunities, provide assistance with applied projects and connect the company to the latest applicable AI research.
Amii will also support Imperial in attracting and developing its technical teams, with an emphasis on enhancing the skills of current employees, the companies said.