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The panel addressed the role of gas in the energy transition. (Image source: AIEN International Energy Summit)

Exploration & Production

A panel session at the AIEN International Energy Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, focused on the role of gas in the energy transition, looking at how natural gas, particularly LNG, impacts the security, affordability and sustainability of a robust energy future

Moderator Edward Taylor, partner, A&O Shearman asked the question, is natural gas still relevant to the energy evolution?

Andrew Kirk, vice president Origination, LNG, B Grimm said it will continue to play a big role. “The issue with renewables capacity and their intermittent nature means we will continue to need natural gas. New technologies such as batteries are still a long way off from being able to supply a full grid load. Renewables are also geographically bespoke and not available to all. They can provide solutions in areas with limited demand but the cost to run a city like Bangkok is so problematic. Many countries will not be able to cope with the cost increase of moving straight to renewables.”

Steve Morrell, senior vice president, ExxonMobil PNG LNG, agreed. “The conversation about gas has never been more pertinent. Whether we are talking about emissions, the war in Ukraine, or living standards around the world – gas has its part to play. There are also so many conversations about the rise of Artificial Intelligence. But where is the power coming from to feed these data centres that will play such a large part?"

Accelerating the energy transition

“Gas can accelerate the energy transition today. We can stop coal today. We can fill the gaps in intermittent renewables today. So, what is holding us back?”

“We are far enough along the energy transition to separate the aspirational and the unachievable,” said Kirk. “We are hearing these ideological positions where gas is considered unnecessary without having a sensible conversation about alternatives. Moving straight to renewables will create very unstable energy grids that will stifle economic growth.”

With the global population set to grow by 2bn by 2050, Morrell believes the responsibility will grow even higher on the energy companies to provide affordable, reliable and sustainable energy, and natural gas will play a large role in this.

“Gas is well understood and relatively cleaner compared with coal. The infrastructure is there and expanding. There is a lot to be said for the marriage between gas and intermittent renewables. Moving from a well-known system to new technology – it isn’t going to happen overnight. We could put more gas into the system. This will help see a 60% reduction in emissions if we replace coal, without even using new technologies.”

“One of the main problems is how to fill the gaps from renewables,” Kirk concluded. “The answer is gas. The stage is set for a reasoned conversation about gas.”

Ola Balbaa, wells engineer, bp and young professional member of the POWERful Women board. (Image source: POWERful Women)

Industry

In advance of International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June, Oil Review Middle East spoke to Ola Balbaa, wells engineer with bp and young professional member of the POWERful Women board, who shared her experiences and thoughts on advancing women in engineering roles

Can you give us a bit of background about your role, and how you came to get where you are today?

I studied Petrochemicals Engineering in Egypt, at Alexandria University, followed by an M.Sc. degree in renewable energy, doing a joint research scope between Alexandria and Kyoto University in Japan.

I then joined bp as a wells engineer in 2016, working offshore, and have been working in this role in the energy field for seven years now. During my career span, I worked offshore on deepwater harsh environment facilities for almost three years, then moved to an office-based role as a planning and execution wells engineer.

I have been able to obtain my leadership trust, steadily build a comprehensive knowledge in the field and reach out beyond that to expand my perspectives through different initiatives and volunteering opportunities. Currently I am part of the central wells discipline team looking after drilling operations in the North Sea region of the UK.

What are the main challenges you have experienced as a women engineer so far in your career, and how have you overcome them?

Working on offshore rigs is a harsh environment for both men and women; most challenges were around cultural acceptance of me as the only female engineer on a drilling rig of 160 men.

In this male-dominated and extreme work environment, my biggest challenge was to get the team’s trust to first learn and gain the knowledge I needed, then lead the team towards safe and efficient energy delivery.

My biggest success moment was when the old-school driller who refused to greet me every morning for six months of work on an onshore rig eventually came and shook my hand and said “I want my daughter to be like you”.

What do you think have been your main achievements, and what are your aspirations and ambitions for the future?

During my master’s degree studies I received the State's Encouragement Award in Science from Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, for my start-up project Wara2a (Paper), which was to produce paper ecologically without harming the trees or the environment. In 2018 I was nominated among the Top 50 Women in Egypt, an award given to influential female figures. I received the award from Dr.Hala El Said, Minister of Planning and Economic Development. I have lectured and spoken at several energy conferences, such as ADIPEC, IADC and SPE, as well as diversity platforms in Egypt and the UK. I currently lead the Women in Wells group in bp and recently joined the board of POWERful Women as a Young Professional member. I was recently invited by the CBC media channel to speak about women working in harsh fields.

What do you think companies could do to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women in engineering, and help them advance in the industry? 

POWERful Women recently released its Annual State of Nation report which reflects how the top UK energy companies are performing on gender diversity. Women are now in 34% of leadership and 32% of middle management roles in the UK energy sector and some companies are excelling and leading by example.

However, progress on women on boards – and particularly the key decision-making roles like CEO – has stalled. I believe that the most important steps come beyond the analysis, stats and numbers. As well as setting bold targets, companies need to understand and dive deeply into the gaps that women face in their day-to-day jobs, address them thoroughly and keep a safe follow-up communications channel to track progress through enablers like male allies and surveys.

How do you think young girls and women can be encouraged to pursue careers in engineering?

Through research and persistence, anyone can do anything! Don’t quit early, fail early. In other words, if it’s really what you want, do it and pursue it, don’t give up and don’t get discouraged because of stereotypes. And if you fail fast, you follow a progressive route where you learn faster and keep the momentum to develop.

What future do you see for women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and the opportunities on offer in these sectors?

The energy trilemma is a huge challenge and opportunity at the same time. The transition to net zero and a reliable and affordable energy system is going to require skills, innovation and leadership from people from all kinds of backgrounds. Research shows that greater diversity adds huge value to business performance when done in the right way.

As the sector transforms, there are huge and exciting opportunities for women with STEM skills of all kinds, whether they are just starting out or can bring them over from other industries where they’ve worked – it’s a fast-moving and thrilling time, and women pursuing STEM careers will continue to carry huge value to the energy industry.

 

The new process will improve efficiency and reduce carbon footprint. (Image source: Honeywell)

Petrochemicals

Honeywell has launched a new process to improve the efficiency and sustainability of light olefin production

The naphtha to ethane and propane (NEP) technology generates a tunable amount of ethane and propane from naphtha and/or LPG feedstocks, generating more high-value ethylene and propylene with reduced production of lower-value by-products compared to a traditional mixed-feed steam cracking unit and resulting in net cash margin increases. An NEP-based olefins complex also reduces CO2 intensity per metric ton of light olefins produced by 5 to 50% versus a traditional mixed-feed steam cracker.

More efficient production

“The petrochemical industry faces strong competition and challenges in obtaining raw materials globally,” said Matt Spalding, vice president and general manager of Honeywell Energy and Sustainability Solutions in MENA. “Our technology helps to enable more efficient production of ethylene and propylene, two chemicals which are in high demand, while also helping our customers lower their carbon emissions.”

The new solution is a part of Honeywell’s Integrated Olefin Suite technology portfolio to enhance the production of light olefins.

Bandlock2 closures are now available in diameters in excess of 100 inches (254cm). (Image source: Celeros Flow)

Technology

Celeros Flow Technology has up-scaled its Bandlock2 quick-opening closures so they can be incorporated on very large diameter pressure vessels and pipelines

The need for larger diameter closures is being driven by the fact that pipelines and pressure vessels are getting bigger, as a result of the growing global demand for essential products such as water, gas and oil. Available in diameters up to 100 inches (254cm), the larger diameter Bandlock2 closures offer customers the potential to reduce the number of pressure vessels and associated pipework required for any given application.

Same quick-opening mechanism

Manufactured by Celeros FT brand GD Engineering, very large diameter Bandlock2 closures offer the same proven quick-opening mechanism and sealing design as standard diameter closures. Full access is still achievable in less than a minute. They feature a unique, self-energising lip seal with integral anti-extrusion spring and offer full vacuum capability.

A hand-operated pressure warning screw assures safe operation. This is integrated into the closure mechanism and prevents the door from being unlocked until it is confirmed that the vessel’s internal pressure has been relieved. Additional secondary safety features, such as mechanical key interlocks, can be fitted and integrated with control valve operations. In addition, the locking band can be seen at all times, which satisfies design code requirements and means that the operator can actually see that the door is securely closed and locked.

More than 175 people, including senior representatives of the region's leading oil and gas companies, attended a very topical and engaging live webinar hosted by Oil Review Middle East entitled “Beyond Boundaries: Advanced Surveillance for Oil and Gas Remote Facilities”

The overall pace of the transition has slowed, with economic volatility, heightened geopolitical tensions and technological shifts all having an impact. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Energy Transition

The global energy transition to a more equitable, secure and sustainable energy has lost momentum in the face of increasing uncertainty worldwide, according to a new World Economic Forum report

While 107 of the 120 countries benchmarked in the report demonstrated progress on their energy transition journeys in the past decade, the overall pace of the transition has slowed, with economic volatility, heightened geopolitical tensions and technological shifts all having an impact. However, increasing global investments in renewables and significant growth in energy transition performance in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade are positives.

Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2024, published in collaboration with Accenture, uses the Energy Transition Index (ETI) to benchmark 120 countries on the performance of their current energy systems, with a focus on balancing equity, environmental sustainability and energy security, and on their transition-readiness.

“We must ensure that the energy transition is equitable, in and across emerging and developed economies,” said Roberto Bocca, head of the Centre for Energy and Materials, World Economic Forum. “Transforming how we produce and consume energy is critical to success. We need to act on three key levers for the energy transition urgently: reforming the current energy system to reduce its emissions, deploying clean energy solutions at scale, and reducing energy intensity per unit of GDP.”

Europe leads the rankings

Europe continues to lead the ETI rankings, with the top 10 list for 2024 fully composed of countries from that region. Sweden comes top, followed by Denmark, Finland, Switzerland and France.These countries benefit from high political commitment, strong investments in research and development, expanded clean energy adoption – accelerated by the regional geopolitical situation, energy-efficiency policies and carbon pricing.
China and Brazil have advanced significantly in recent years, primarily driven by long-term efforts to increase the share of clean energy and enhance their grid reliability.

The gap in overall ETI scores has narrowed between advanced and developing economies, although clean energy investment continues to be concentrated in advanced economies and China. This underscores the need for financial support from advanced nations to facilitate an equitable energy transition in emerging and developing nations and forward-thinking policy-making in all nations to foster conducive investment conditions.

Over the past decade, the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan region has seen a 7% growth in its ETI score, which has stagnated in the last three years, according to the report, a significant barrier being the decline in finance and investment over this period. The region’s heavy reliance on oil revenues poses a challenge for a sustainable energy transition. Its regional score lags behind all regions except sub-Saharan Africa.

While the world remains off-track to meet net-zero ambitions by 2050 and limit global warming to no more than 1.5C, there has been notable progress in energy efficiency and an increase in the adoption of clean energy sources.

Innovation is a key enabling factor for the energy transition and can reduce costs, scale key technologies, renew and reskill the workforce and attract investments, the report stresses. Digital innovations, including generative AI, offer significant opportunities to reinvent the energy industry by enhancing productivity. Generative AI's ability to analyse vast quantities of data can provide innovative forecasts and solutions, or streamline existing operations to increase efficiencies, among other benefits. However, it will be crucial to responsibly and equitably address the risks and challenges posed by these technologies.

“C-suites consistently tell us a clear business case is a prerequisite for attracting investments in the energy transition, especially in the face of higher interest rates and the emerging talent shortage," said Muqsit Ashraf, group chief executive, Accenture Strategy. "We believe that a strong digital core, enabled by generative AI, can boost productivity, enhancing returns and talent availability and unlocking a new wave of investments.”

Latest news

Gastech 2023 to feature exclusive roundtable discussions on gas, LNG and hydrogen

A series of 10 invitation-only roundtable discussions will be held as part of the Gastech 2023 conference and exhibition, which will focus on the major themes of energy supply security, low-carbon energy for sustainable global growth, energy transition alliances, and the development of the energy industry workforce globally

The roundtable discussions will see participation from more than 10 energy ministers and 100 C-suite executives from across APAC, Europe, the US, and beyond, to discuss action and tangible solutions accelerating the future of the gas and energy industries and supporting global decarbonisation goals towards a more secure energy future. They will focus on gas, LNG and hydrogen as key enablers and accelerators of the energy transition.

UNEP will host a Roundtable asking: ‘How will the gas and LNG industry make a step change in its decarbonising efforts?’. UNEP OGMP 2.0 manager Giulia Ferrini will be joined by representatives from the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), Zhero, SLB, the World Bank, the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, ENGIE, Linde, and TES to debate strategies to tackle the existential issue of methane emissions curbs.

Giulia Ferrini  said, “The oil and gas sector needs to act and curb methane emissions as a first step towards their decarbonisation efforts. It is only through collaboration, accountability, and transparency that industry can be part of the transition to sustainable energy and urgently address the climate crisis.”

A range of measures are already being evaluated, from responsibly produced gas to CCUS to more efficient engines in ships. Convening a broad panel of public and private sector players will ensure that these important questions are not just asked but answered.

A session on ‘Hydrogen - unlocking the off-takers and market signals needed to secure demand’ will be led by Siemens Energy, addressing the critical role of hydrogen in the path to net zero and reducing scope 3 emissions in hard-to-abate sectors. Insights will focus on accelerating APAC’s ability to unlock the roll-out of its hydrogen economy, while balancing decarbonisation, energy security, and affordability.

Anne-Laure de Chammard, member of the Executive Board of Siemens Energy, said, “Engaging in conversations about hydrogen becomes crucial as we seek to shape policies, attract investments, and establish markets. Nevertheless, the road towards a thriving hydrogen economy is complex, requiring careful navigation to ensure tangible benefits for all stakeholders while considering its impact on our planet.”

Key outcomes from the Gastech 2023 Leadership Roundtables will feed into industry reports produced by Wood Mackenzie, with the aim to support the global energy agenda and inspire the industry to develop the crucial strategies required to accelerate energy progress and meet net zero targets.

Simon Flowers, chairman & chief analyst, Wood Mackenzie, said: “The gas outlook remains bullish, for LNG in particular. LNG demand growth, mainly from Asia, requires another 100 mmtpa of new capacity to be built by the mid-2030s on top of that already under construction. While this growth is positive, suppliers also face multiple challenges: margins are at risk from cost inflation, developers must meet growing calls for low-carbon-footprint LNG and securing long-term offtake with Asian buyers is key. I can’t think of a better time and location for the industry to be meeting than in Singapore for this year’s Gastech.”

Gastech takes place from 5-8 September in Singapore. For the opportunity to participate in the Gastech 2023 Leadership Roundtables, apply to become a Gastech Energy Club Member by registering your interest here.