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A question of technology

Oilfield Technology,

Following discussions of energy outlooks at IP Week on 17th February, the strategic role of technological advances in unlocking available and affordable oil and gas supplies was brought to the fore.

Technology talk

Between 2012 and 2035, in order for the technological advancements required to be met, it was said that there needs to be a 41% increase in investments in technology over that time frame, an equivalent of 1.5% /y. But the question is, who is going to pay for this? Especially as it was tabled that US$ 1 trillion a year is the most likely figure required.

The challenges that need to be met by technological advancement were also discussed particularly that of producing hydrocarbons safely and gaining access to resources. The biggest challenge however seems to be the fact that 88% of primary energy is lost and only 12% ends up as useful heat, light and motion. Energy efficiency is of great importance, but it is hoped that with technology, this can be achieved, along with enough of a supply to meet demand forecasts.

The energy trilemma

The energy trilemma was a topic talked about over the whole day, which compiles of energy affordability, sustainability and security. When it comes to finding results for this, energy density really does matter and it was said that the US is the closest to currently finding the answers to the three problems at hand.

Of course, it was no surprise to hear that shale is what’s helping the US towards affordability, sustainability and security. However, when it comes to shale, it was said that there is uncertainty as much about what goes on above ground as below. So it is not only the ‘fracktivists’ worrying in about earthquakes etc that are the problems in this technology talk. It is the fact that it can take decades for a technology to go from innovation to adoption, of which fracking is a prime example.


To sum up the technology debates at IP Week, it was said that the global potential for shale still remains uncertain however, fossil fuels have an uncanny ability to compete in the energy market due to price.

Written by Claira Lloyd.

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