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Japan's Mitsui, Modec launch digital efficiency service for energy firms

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By Yuka Obayashi

TOKYO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Japan's trading house Mitsui & Co and its affiliate ocean engineering firm Modec Inc have launched a digital service to help improve the productivity of energy and other companies, aiming for sales of up to $100 million in five years.

The new company, called Shape, will detect early signs of glitches to reduce downtime and acting before a failure occurs to slash maintenance costs, Soichi Ide, executive officer at Modec, told Reuters.

The move comes as global oil and gas producers are looking to improve operational efficiency to increase output and therefore profit as they need to invest heavily in green energy to propel their future growth.

"The oil industry is moving towards decarbonisation, but it is important to improve the core business during the transition and we want to help that," Ide said.

The digital service was originally developed for its floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels to trim downtime by combining technology and Modec's accumulated operations data from more than 20 years, which resulted in cutting downtime by 87%.

Modec, 14.9% owned by Mitsui, is one of the world's biggest operators of the FPSO, a floating vessel used by oil and gas companies for storage and offloading purposes.

"We are in talks with a major oil producer in Asia as well as a global shipping company and a steelmaker," Ide said.

Mitsui will use its global network to expand the new service, the company's general manager, Kenta Hori, said. Microsoft and McKinsey are their technology partners.

Also to help companies worldwide trim their carbon footprint, Shape is developing digital models to identify and measure carbon dioxide emissions in each step of operations. (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi, editing by Louise Heavens)