2022IADC/SPE Drilling ConferenceNovember/DecemberSafety and ESG

Technical innovations, sensible policies vital to energy security

By Linda Hsieh, Editor & Publisher

As we head into the winter season, it’s heartening to see to the world refocusing on the critical issue of energy security. For a long time, it seemed that our industry had done such a good job of finding and producing oil and gas that the world was taking energy for granted.

But we know that affordable and reliable energy is not a given.

Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Group CEO of ADNOC, recently said at the Energy Intelligence Forum in London that “all progress starts and ends with energy security.” He couldn’t be more right.

Energy security is essential for social, economic and climate progress, he said, adding that market sentiment does not reflect the real underlying fundamentals, tight spare capacity and long-term demand growth. Governments should not be focusing their policies on ending the current energy system before a new one is firmly in place.

“Yes, we must all commit to mitigating the impact of global energy supplies, but let’s keep our focus on capturing carbon, not canceling production. Let’s hold back emissions, not progress,” Dr Al Jaber said.

He further urged the world to make good use of the technical expertise within the oil and gas industry. “For the energy transition to succeed, the energy professionals need to be in the room, as equal partners alongside all other stakeholders.”

Dreaming big on technology

Within the drilling industry, companies are stepping up to meet calls for increased production, even as we’re dealing with continued cost challenges, staffing shortages and supply chain bottlenecks. Technology is and will continue to be a key enabler. For example, compared with 20-30 years ago, data has become much more easily accessible, allowing engineers to spend more of their time on data interpretation and decision making. “Just like we did with unconventionals, we think we can create another 10x in the subsurface, we can have 10x higher NPV, be 10x more productive, if we focus on it,” Hess CTO Robert Fast said during a panel session at the 2022 SPE Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition on 4 October in Houston. When it comes to making technical advances, he said, “you’ve got to dream big.”

Speaking on the same panel, Daniel Kalms, Executive VP Technical Services and CTO at Woodside Energy, urged companies to “be disruptive” in their technology development and deployment. “It’s too easy in our industry to just accept everything within our own little echo chamber,” he said. Interacting externally with tech startups, for example, can help our industry to adopt agile innovation. “If we don’t get disrupted and challenged, we’ll just be going in a relatively modest pace down a set path.”

Sensible energy policies 

While technology can go a long way in helping our industry to provide energy to the world, we still need governments to implement sensible policies. API and IOGP, for example, recently commissioned a study highlighting the potential for American LNG to strengthen Europe’s energy security.

“The EU needs to secure alternative supplies now if it wants to fully phase out Russian gas imports by 2027,” said Francois-Regis Mouton, IOGP’s Regional Director for Europe. This means that both US LNG export capacity and the EU’s import capacity will need to be expanded in the coming years, based on decisions that policymakers make today.

The renewed attention on energy security we’re seeing now should not fade away without making an impact on public policy. It’s an opportune moment for policymakers to pave a sustainable path that will lead to dependable and affordable energy in the decades to come.  DC 

Linda Hsieh can be reached at linda.hsieh@iadc.org.

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