Technical Leaders Interview - A discussion of future technologies of the oil field.
If all technological innovations produced by the oil and gas industry were added up, they would probably rival NASA’s space program or the Industrial Revolution. Driving these innovations have been the increasing challenges of locating, accessing, and exploiting hydrocarbon reserves. As oil and gas gets harder to find and extract, the costs of extraction escalate, and this drives innovation that makes the process more efficient and cost-effective. Before we speculate on the technological future of the oil field, let us look at some fundamental questions, such as what drives innovation, what does it cost, who pays for it, and who performs it?
What Drives Innovation?
In general, innovation relates to the application of new ideas, products, or techniques. In oil fields, it pertains to anything that extends our ability to access resources that are harder to reach, or to do so more efficiently, effectively, cleanly, and safely. We would not be talking about technology and innovation if we could take a bucket to a bubbling stream or a pond of crude and gather at will. Recent oil and gas finds and major developments have been a result of pushing the limits of existing technologies. The oil and gas industry has responded with innovative solutions to meet its business needs, bringing together exploration and production (E&P) operators, service companies, and academia (Table 1).