SPE ATCE: Empower progress, empower energy

Craig Fleming, Technical Editor, World Oil October 04, 2022

(WO) — Sustainable recovery and transforming the industry for the future was the theme of the opening general session Monday morning at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, at the George R. Brown convention center in Houston, Texas.

The panel included Kamel Ben-Naceur, President, Nomadia Energy Consulting; Barton Cahir, Senior V.P., ExxonMobil; Vicki Hollub, President and CEO, Oxy; Olivier Le Peuch, CEO, Schlumberger, and moderator

Iman Hill, Executive Director, IOGP. The theme of the discussion centered around initiatives, technologies and processes required to reach net zero by 2050. The discussion centered around technologies and methods to deliver a safe and sustainable energy future. 

Iman Hill opened the discussion by asking the panel to address the key challenges to solving the energy crisis, as the as the world emerges from Covid-19 lockdowns and the loss of supply caused by the war in Ukraine. Specific problems include supply chain issues, skilled workforce shortages and inflation concerns. Hill emphasized that decades of counterproductive energy policies, and underinvestment have caused the supply shortage. “Since 2014, investments have fallen $700 billion to just $300 billion," Hill stated. And despite warnings from industry executives about the consequences, the trend is expected to continue. 

Oxy’s Hollub said the war in Ukraine has intensified the need for mapping a strategy for energy transition and that care must be taken to not push for rapid implementation of green initiatives. The goal of net zero must include CCUS and reducing/controlling emissions in oil and gas operations. Hollub continued, stating that the drive to eliminate the oil and gas industry has severely hindered the transition, and the goal should be collaboration between industries to solve the energy problem. “Every company must have a viable carbon reduction strategy,” said Hollub. Oxy is developing direct atmospheric carbon capture technology in the Permian basin that will be shared with the industry, when it is perfected.        

ExxonMobil’s perspective. Next, Hill asked Barton Cahir to elaborate on the challenge of increasing investment in hydrocarbon-based energy to meet demand. Cahir emphasized the need to increase investment in upstream oil and gas to help facilitate the energy transition. “It is possible to grow oil and gas production, while reducing emissions” said Cahir. “ExxonMobil has collaborated with Oxy in the Permian basin to double production in the last four years while reducing emission and natural gas flaring. By the end of this decade, ExxonMobil will reach net zero in its Permian basin operations, while continuing to grow production.” ExxonMobil is going to invest $15 billion over the next four years in R&D to help the industry understand CCUS and develop efficient technologies and best implementation strategies.

Schlumberger’s approach. Hill than asked Le Peuch to outline Schlumberger’s plans to help facilitate the energy transition and achieving net zero. “We have a four-pronged approach,” Lepeuch responded. “The key drivers are: 1) increase economic investment; 2) facilitate decarbonization of Schlumberger’s operations; 3) increase methane abatement through CCUS; and 4) attract and retain HR talent. Increased use of natural gas is also important, and every country should have a plan to help achieve net zero,” said Lepeuch.  

The consultant’s view. Next, Hill asked Kamel Ben-Naceur to outline specific challenges to worldwide energy security and sustainability. “Around the world, there are 800 million people who do not have access to electricity, and 3 billion people have no access to any modern energy sources,” said Ben-Naceur. Developing energy and delivery infrastructure is a major challenge in Nigeria and other developing African countries. In Europe, the war in Ukraine has driven energy prices to record highs. The price for natural gas is five times higher, compared to last year. “Across the world, there are different challenges to delivering energy security, providing sustainability and facilitating the energy transition. Without worldwide cooperation and additional investment to address the energy crisis, the entire world is in jeopardy,” Ben-Naceur concluded. 

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