WPC 2021: Oil and gas technology holds key to meeting world’s green energy goals

Cameron Wallace, Senior Digital Editor 12/7/2021

HOUSTON – As deadlines on ambitious green-energy targets draw nearer, the infrastructure and expertise of the fossil fuel industry has a critical role to play in reaching the world’s decarbonization goals. 

“There is a spectrum of willingness” on the part of green energy companies to take advantage of oil and gas technology, Dr. Paula Doyle, SVP Oil & Gas at Cognite AS, said during the 2021 World Petroleum Congress. “The pressure [to meet climate targets] is on, and we don’t have time to go back to the drawing board” to reinvent technologies that have already been developed in the pursuit of fossil fuel development.

Doyle pointed out that subsea construction processes originally developed for deepwater oil and gas installations are proving critical for offshore wind farms, and that transportation infrastructure for fossil fuels can play an important role in the development and adoption of hydrogen as an energy source.

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Critical to leveraging these technologies is digital transformation – in particular, developing new ways to take advantage of the significant amount of data generated across the upstream, midstream and downstream fossil fuel energy journey. Siloed data between and even within systems makes artificial intelligence and machine learning more challenging to leverage, and can ultimately reduce its effectiveness.

“We are dealing with realities, not just dreams and hopes” when it comes to applying legacy expertise to new energy challenges, Dr. Doyle said. “There are major physical realities around completing the energy transition as cleanly as possible. We are doing all we can to accelerate green energy, while also making current systems more efficient.”

Data contextualization, wherein information is collected holistically across an entire system and linked together, plays a key role in this technology and knowledge transfer. To achieve this, data must be democratized for best advantage at scale, across sites, systems and organizations.

Doyle said that Cognite is taking a two-pronged approach, improving data performance to lower the carbon intensity of energy produced, while also reducing the overall volume of energy consumed.

The objective is to “focus on the lowest carbon-intensity possible, going beyond carbon capture, and moving toward using existing networks to produce hydrogen, create renewable energy storage technologies, and improve offshore wind performance” in the broader energy transition, Doyle said. By partnering with oil and gas companies, and working to incorporate renewables into their energy production mix, their financial and technical value can more rapidly industrialize the green energy sector.

Moving from an emphasis on carbon remediation, to eliminating carbon from energy sources in the first place, is one of the benefits of data contextualization.

Fully contextualized data, utilized by artificial intelligence and machine learning systems designed to build upon the expertise and track record of oil and gas production, can “increase efficiency, improve time-to-market on renewable projects, and reduce carbon intensity,” Doyle said.

 

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