Avoiding the Crunch

Five different points of view but a considerable degree of agreement about how to match energy supply with demand in the low-carbon era  -  that was the main outcome of yesterday’s Plenary session in the ADIPEC conference hall.

In running order – no positions necessary, these are all top names - Ahmed Rashid Al-Arbeed of local Dana Gas reminded delegates that this fuel is becoming central to keeping up with demand, especially here in the Gulf. But unless the industry is properly supported – more competition welcome but more protection for investors would be welcome too – there is a danger that “Our share of the world gas market could shrink.” An increased role for the private sector was called for, with the example of Egypt being quoted of what can happen if the right ground is prepared.

Yves-Louis Darricarrère stressed the role of investment in technology. That means for Total, amongst other things, more complex projects based on this company’s “core competencies”, a more efficient liquefaction process, more development of heavy oil reserves, making CCs really sustainable - and much less flaring. None of this possible without a culture of constant innovation – and constant dialogue with customers and stakeholders, too.

The IEA is well known for its all-forms analysis of energy issues, and Didier Houssin agreed with other panellists that hydrocarbons have to share with renewables the task of keeping the world energised. On the challenges faced, “There are some early signs of progress, but there’s much more to be done.

“Gas remains the fuel of choice in transition to a low-carbon economy, but it could be a long transition,” he warned. And in the future there’s the problem of phasing out of renewable subsidies to worry about. Meanwhile increased reliance will have to be placed on CCS for environmental protection.

Schlumberger’s Paal Kibsgaard stressed the key role of a much deeper understanding of subsurface conditions if a step change in drilling performance, along with better protection of the environment, are to be achieved. In particular he underlined his company’s emphasis on drilling optimisation, improved well placement and what he called “wellbore assurance” (i.e. better access to reserves). “Entire system performance needs to be improved,’ and he warned of the effects of “crew change” – the looming ageing of the skilled workforce.

Finally Andrew P Swiger outlined some of ExxonMobil’s answers to the coming supply crunch. CCS needs to be scaled up, he said. The next generation of biofuels is overdue, and this company is very hopeful about technology based on algae. And industry in particular needs to use energy much more efficiently, with power cogeneration being a notable contributor. ExxonMobil, “a leading integrator of innovation,” has a big stake in all of these, he said.

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