New R&D White Paper Addresses Challenges for Future Energy Supply
- Ted Moon (JPT Online Technology Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- April 2008
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 48 - 50
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R&D white paper
Over the next 30 years, the world’s economies will need more energy to fuel their growth, and the oil and gas industry will have to increase investment substantially in research and development (R&D) in order to keep pace. This fact is the central theme of a new white paper from SPE’s R&D Advisory Committee titled “The R&D Challenges to Secure Energy Supply for the Third Trillion Barrels and Beyond.”
The third trillion refers to a US Geological Survey estimate that there are more than 3 trillion bbl of recoverable conventional oil worldwide, with one-third already consumed and the remaining two-thirds largely in the possession of national oil companies (NOCs). As worldwide energy demand grows by more than 50% by 2030 [according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2006], the oil and gas industry will need to rely heavily on R&D advances, according to Vikram Rao, SPE, Chairman of the R&D Advisory Committee and Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Halliburton.
“The 12-member R&D Advisory Committee has raised a number of initiatives since its inception in 2002, all designed to raise the profile of R&D in the energy industry,” Rao said. “The committee’s new white paper was written with one initiative in mind, to promote awareness of R&D challenges impacting the industry to an audience outside of the petroleum community.”
“The white paper is mainly concentrated on demographics of what the next 1 to 2 trillion bbl will look like,” said Arnis Judzis, SPE, one of the paper’s main committee coauthors and Vice President of Schlumberger Data and Consulting Services. “We wanted to relate the myriad challenges associated with producing the unconventional and alternative energy sources that will be needed.”
Rao agreed, adding that, “It was intended to be a manifesto, a way to shed light on the imperatives for the industry, and to begin a dialog on the areas of endeavor that are fruitful for R&D.”
Before the industry can bear the fruits of an increased energy offering, a significant increase in oil and gas R&D spending will be needed. According to 2007 estimates by the IEA, this investment will need to be on the order of USD 8.2 trillion over the next 25 years. Over the past 25 years, energy R&D investment as a percentage of total R&D declined from 10% to roughly 2% in the US alone. The IEA reports similar declines on a global scale over the same time period.
Major R&D investments over the past 15 to 20 years have focused on technologies designed to find and produce more conventional hydrocarbons, including advances in 3D and 4D seismic, directional drilling, and production in frontier areas such as the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and Brazil. “These technologies will not meet our future needs, and we will need to collaborate on new technical innovations and diversify our energy supply going forward,” said Rao.
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