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Norwegian oil company Equinor (EQNR) has decided to take a 10% stake in start-up Kobold Metals.

Kobold’s aim is to apply artificial intelligence to big subsurface data to create what it calls a “Google Maps” of the Earth’s crust that will identify new deposits of cobalt, a key metal used in electric car batteries.

For Equinor it’s the technology rather than the cobalt that’s behind the investment. Being able to apply artificial intelligence to huge amounts of subsurface data could provide new, and perhaps cheaper, techniques for finding oil and natural gas.

Equinor is a member of my 12-18 month Jubak Picks Portfolio, The shares are down 1.38% since I added them to this portfolio on May 10, 2012. Along with Parsley Energy (PE) and Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD) it is one of the few remaining fossil-fuel producers left in my portfolios.

Kobold Metals, by the way, has Microsoft’s Bill Gates as one of its early backers.