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Last Update:2023.11.06

Shape's AI Technology Reduces GHG Emissions by Optimizing Plant Facility Operations

Shape provides artificial intelligence (AI)-based digital solutions for large-scale plant facilities such as floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) systems.
Shape's AI technology, is used to monitor and predict equipment failures in O&M (Operations & Maintenance) while reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
What is the company's digital solution for plant equipment, its overview, and its future prospects?

Shape's digital solution was created to solve the operational challenges of FPSO operator MODEC (Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Co., Ltd.). The solution, which leverages onsite knowledge of plant facilities and AI model development, enables highly accurate failure prediction, and visualization of plant facilities' GHG emissions. Shape's solutions are not limited to FPSOs, but also deployed in the Oil and Gas, Metals and Mining, Power Generation, and Pulp and Paper industries.

History of FPSO Failure Prediction Service by FPSO operators

─ Please tell us about the origins of Shape.
Tanabe Shape is an AI development company, funded by Mitsui & Co. and MODEC, which has developed more than 800 machine learning models to provide AI-based digital solutions mainly in the FPSO operations. FPSO is an offshore facility which is located 200 to 300 km from tha shore that pumps crude oil and natural gas from the bottom of the ocean, produces and offloads them.
Hiroki Tanabe,
Fourth Dept. Division III (South America), Infrastructure Projects Business Unit, Mitsui & Co.
(seconded from the Integrated Digital Strategy Department)
Joined Mitsui in 2003 and has over 16 years of experience in the digital field (AI/Block Chain/IoT/Big Data/M2M) in a variety of business areas. After gaining business experience in the energy field at E&P and New Energy since 2014, he has been active as a professional in digital projects such as energy, plants, and metal resources for the last seven years. Since 2020, he has been actively working as an operation committee member for the founding of Shape Brazil, and in 2021, he was appointed VP of Business Development, where he is engaged in the company's management / corporate planning.
─ ─ Shape was established in 2021, how was it founded?
Tanabe: The forerunner of this project was the development of AI-based failure prediction by MODEC. Mitsui has contributed human and financial resources from the demonstration stage. The MODEC/Mitsui-owned FPSO MV29, which operates offshore Brazil, has been selected as a "Lighthouse" (Indicator) for advanced plants by the World Economic Forum (WEF). MV29 was the only upstream plant in the oil and gas industry (exploration and development, extraction, and transportation) to be selected as a "Lighthouse," and the first Japanese company and the first plant in South America to be selected (as of January 2021).
The reason for the selection was the use of AI to predict failures. While most AI applications remain experimental, our AI model has already been put to practical use and is being used on 10 FPSOs.
FPSO Cidade de Campos dos Goytacazes MV29
Courtesy of Mitsui Ocean Development & Engineering Co.
Haga: Since the beginning of our failure prediction efforts, we have developed more than 800 AI models. The development of competitive AI models has enabled highly accurate failure prediction, which led to the establishment of Shape in June 2021 as a spin-off from MODEC in order to apply the technology to a wide range of plant facilities, not limited to FPSOs.
Yuri Haga,
Fourth Dept. Division III (South America), Infrastructure Projects Business Unit, Mitsui & Co.
Joined the company in 2019. She was in charge of desalination project in Chile. After then, she has been involved in the construction and operation of FPSO projects in Brazil and Vietnam, and from 2023, she has been working for Shape Brazil, a digital solution development and sales company in which the FPSO team has invested, in corporate planning and external sales activities including predictive failure and GHG-related products.
─ ─ Is failure prediction an important element for plant facilities?
Tanabe Shape supports FPSO O&M (Operations & Maintenance) through AI-based digital solutions, and one of the most important functions is failure prediction. In the FPSO business, various types of equipment, such as compressors and gas turbines, are in operation. If such equipment were to cease operation, the uptime ratio (availability rate) would deteriorate and business profitability would be impaired. At the same time, if the supply of fossil fuels is disrupted, the stable supply of energy may be threatened. In order to minimize this downtime, highly accurate failure prediction is necessary.
─ What are Shape's strengths compared to its rivals?
Tanabe: Shape's solution was developed by MODEC, an FPSO operator, to solve its own pain points. There are many companies that provide predictive failure services, such as equipment manufacturers and system companies, but the key feature of Shape's solution is that it was developed by operators who know the site well. This makes it possible to develop AI models based on knowledge of plant equipment and operations (Operational Technology).
─ Is there a reason why Shape is based in Brazil?
Haga Brazil is the world's eighth largest crude oil producer, and MODEC is an operator of FPSOs, which account for about 25% of Brazil's crude oil production, and a user of Shape's digital solutions. From this perspective, Shape has established a development base in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is close to the site and the users.

Four digital solutions offered by Shape

─ Please give us an overview of each of Shape's four solutions: Lighthouse, Aura, DBMS, and VET.
Tanabe: Lighthouse is a failure prediction system. The platform centrally manages a variety of data, including the operating status of plant equipment and facilities, and predicts failures through AI analysis.
Haga: Aura is a decarbonization solution. Aura not only collects data through various sensors to visualize GHG emissions, but also provides AI-based analysis to optimize plant operations to minimize GHG emissions while maintaining plant performance.
Haga Digital Barrier Management System (DBMS) is a risk management solution. It analyzes risks such as equipment failures and their impact on the entire plant and assists in determining appropriate countermeasures.
Most plant facilities analyze risks statically and respond to risks based on the experience and intuition of the workers onsite. DBMS performs dynamic real-time analysis and realizes systematic risk avoidance through Route Cause Analysis (RCA) and Impact Analysis of possible risks using a risk assessment method called "bowtie" analysis.
Tanabe: Virtual Engineering Tool (VET) is an optimization solution for the entire plant. It provides a simulation environment, automatic optimization, and real-time optimization proposals.
Whereas predictive failure analysis targets a single equipment, such as a compressor, VET optimizes the entire plant, making it possible to detect and respond to abnormalities, such as clogged piping (scaling). While optimization of the entire plant depends largely on the experience of the engineer, VET provides a systematic solution..

"Aura" decarbonization solution for plant facilities

─ Can you tell us more about your decarbonization solution, Aura?
Tanabe Aura integrates and manages data such as operating conditions on its platform and monitors indicators such as GHG emissions and energy efficiency in real time. AI analyzes this data, estimates future GHG emissions, and proposes emission reduction measures such as optimizing equipment operation.
Haga: Aura provides concrete suggestions on various settings of equipment and devices, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on existing operations, 5-10% reduction in GHG emissions can be achieved by using Aura in plant facilities.
Tanabe Aura visualizes GHG emissions and optimizes the operation of equipment to reduce GHG emissions. There are various optimization methods, but we are currently focusing on gas processing equipment as a result of impact analysis of GHG emission locations and emission amounts for the entire plant. We are also proposing optimal equipment on/off timing based on analysis of nominal parameters and real values to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
While the many companies and services that support the visualization of emissions, Aura's greatest feature is its ability to predict and estimate future emissions based on current operating conditions, and to propose emission reductions.

Scaling out to other industries

─ Are these four solutions already being implemented not only in FPSOs but also in other plant facilities?
Haga: Originally, Shape's focus was on failure prediction for large rotating machinery such as compressors and turbines on FPSOs, but now we are also introducing the system to onshore plant facilities. Shape has already introduced the system in Oil and Gas plant in Asia and Pulp and Paper plant in South America, and is developing solutions for Metal and Mining and Power Generation facilities as well.
─ Can it be deployed in all types of industries?
Tanabe: In the future, the system can be expanded to renewable energy (power generation facilities). We are currently studying the possibility of introducing this technology to hydroelectric power generation equipment in South America. We believe this will contribute to the stable operation of power generation facilities and ultimately to the stable supply of renewable energy.
─ What is the role of Mitsui & Co.?
Tanabe: Mitsui has two major roles. First is to leverage Mitsui's global network to expand sales of Shape's solutions, including those in other industries. Second is to provide and accumulate digital knowledge to Shape. For example, we will promote partnering with digital companies through our network and provide insight by introducing successful case studies of SaaS companies in various industries in collaboration with our Integrated Digital Strategy Department.
Shape is a so-called "tech company," with 90 of its 100 employees working at development sites and 60 of them engineers. Mitsui is involved in the digitalization of various industries. We hope that Shape will be able to accumulate the knowledge it has cultivated in this area, especially business and digital knowledge, and promote the development of competitive services.
─ Finally, what does the future hold for Shape as its business expands and its technology evolves?
Haga FPSOs produce crude oil mainly from offshore oil fields, and their stable operation plays a role in ensuring a stable energy supply. If we try to promote decarbonization by switching to renewable energy all at once, we will face the problem of stable energy supply, and it is not realistic to promote decarbonization all at once.
Mitsui, which has long played a role in the stable supply of energy, believes that it is our mission to make a gradual energy transition from the perspective of both stable energy supply and decarbonization.
Tanabe: From the perspective of decarbonization, we would like to promote the reduction of GHG emissions at plant facilities through on-site knowledge and AI technology, and eventually contribute to the realization of carbon neutrality.
─ ─ Thank you very much for your time today.
Shape's digital solutions are aimed at any industry looking to improve plant equipment availability and decarbonize. If you are interested, please feel free to contact us for more information.

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