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Equinor to take stake in Bill Gates-backed KoBold Metals

Norway’s state-backed energy company Equinor plans to take a stake in the Bill Gates-backed startup Kobold Metals, in an effort to gain expertise in using artificial intelligence and machine learning to hunt for oil and gas.

Kobold is focused on finding new deposits of cobalt, a metal used in electric car batteries. It collects and analyses multiple streams of data — from old drilling results to satellite imagery — from around the world to better understand where new deposits might be found.

Kobold’s database is analyzed by algorithms that determine the geological patterns that indicate a potential deposit of cobalt, which occurs naturally alongside nickel and copper, said Kurt House, the company’s chief executive. The technology also helps predict the type of data that needs to be collected in order to find a new deposit, he said.