With greater focus on clean energy to check climate change, nations worldwide are committing to reducing their carbon footprints and increasing renewables in their energy mix. In line with new regulations and guidelines, and also to fulfil their social obligations, oil and gas companies are looking to implement sustainable technologies to align their business operations with the new energy vision, minimize costs, reduce their carbon emissions and become sustainable. Here, in this article, we look at how the Oil and Gas Industry is making the best of innovative sustainable technology.
Despite their best intentions, oil and gas companies have been unable to meet their performance targets, especially, with regard to reducing their carbon emissions. A report by McKinsey on the oil and gas industry points to a performance gap amounting to $200 billion. The report states that offshore platforms, on an average, manage to achieve just 77% of their potential. Sustainable technologies, such as Big Data, Analytics, and AI can help to overcome complexities and streamline operations, enable data-driven decision-making, improve returns by as much as 30-50 times the original investment, and reduce wastage, bottlenecks and accidents, and ecological impact.
Decrease Use of Freshwater
Water is an essential resource in most oil production processes, such as separating oil from other elements present in the oil wells, and fracking. Millions of barrels of water are used every single day and while oil and gas companies make efforts to recycle vast majority of this water, wastage remains the norm than exception. Sustainable technologies can be used to rethink and redesign the extraction and production processes in a way to reduce use of freshwater in the processes right from the beginning.
Recycling of Water
Oil and gas companies are constantly seeking out more effective ways to recycle and reuse water, and at the same time, decrease use of freshwater in their operations. They are showing increased interest in adopting 100% use of non-portable water by improving their processes of oxidation and filtration, and advancing their chemical-free water treatment solutions to remove contaminants such as and iron-oxidizing bacteria and sulphate-reducing contaminants.
Reduce Leaks of Harmful Gases
One of the hazards associated with the oil and gas industry is the release of methane gas during the production and exploration processes. According to the International Energy Agency, companies can completely eliminate chances of methane leakage by employing available and emerging sustainable technologies.
Most oil and gas companies have their own or utilize small-scale waste-oil micro-refinery units to convert used oil into diesel fuel. They can then use this fuel for their ongoing operation rather than dispose of it altogether. Several new technologies facilitate this transformation. This process yields an inexpensive alternative to traditional means of oil disposal.
Achieve More Cost-Effective Processes
Not all innovations in oil and gas are aimed at promoting green operations, but they do help to make processes more sustainable. A case point is the transformation of used oil in diesel, as discussed above. As another example, oil and gas industry companies can leverage new ultrasound technology to create 3D images of the inside of oil wells. This simulated environment mimics real-world oil wells, enabling companies to make cost-effective and informed decisions. Similarly, I 4.0 technologies such as IIOT, automation, analytics, and Artificial Intelligence can help to streamline operations, reduce redundancies, enhance efficiencies and reduce costs. As a result, the companies can produce more with less, resulting in lowered carbon footprint.
The ongoing digitalization of the oil and gas industry has allowed for interesting innovations, one of them being the digitalized oilfield, which is rapidly gaining currency. The digital oilfield is created using big data and cloud technologies. The advantage is that it allows the monitoring of operational data. This data can then be analyzed and put to real-time use, thus, leading to safer and more sustainable decision-making.
Use of Renewable Energy
While several oil and gas industry players are looking to reduce their carbon footprint, there are others who are diversifying into renewable energy. With these major investments, oil and gas companies are set to transform their existing investor base into renewables. Advances are also being made in bio-fuels that would enable production at a larger scale in the coming decades.
Sustainable technologies are enabling oil and gas companies to map their energy flows and emissions, benchmark performance, set and meet targets, and monitor and reduce emissions. Besides, they are also being effectively used to support decision-making in simulated environments, allowing for safer and data-driven decision making, enabling companies to reduce wastes and improve efficiencies sustainably. Finally, several major industry players are increasing their investments in renewable energy, which is poised for growth in the near future.
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