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Getting technical for the future

Oilfield Technology,

The oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) industry is now over 100 years old, and unfortunately has had a cyclical history. The challenging market conditions the industry now faces are far from a new experience. The oil price has been low for some time, and any precise predictions of where it will end up in the future are challenging to say the least. But, if we take a step back to envision the long term perspective of our industry, we should see nothing but a bright future ahead of us. It is a simple fact that the world’s economy is growing and will continue to grow. As living standards improve around the world, people will need - and consume - more and more energy.

On the other hand, the current low oil price is a great opportunity for the industry to transform and reshape itself to be more agile for the future. Interest has been growing throughout the supply chain in greener and more cost-efficient technologies and added-value services. Companies that are able to invest and collaborate now will be more competitive, have stronger relationships with industry stakeholders and be able to provide cost-effective and innovative technology solutions thanks to groundwork done before the next boom.

There is always the capacity to become more efficient and technologically advanced. Innovation and collaboration are key for us to move forward successfully, especially during challenging times. These are no easy feat, however, they require real leadership with vision and will surely be a topic of discussion during this year’s ATCE (Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition).

Since the first edition 92 years ago, the Society of Petroleum Engineers' Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (SPE ATCE) has attracted more than a half million of the E&P industry's greatest minds from around the globe. This year’s ATCE will be hosted for the first time in the Middle East, a pivotal region for oil and gas given its dominant position in conventional reserves and hydrocarbon production, as well as its promising unconventional resources.

Theme of innovation

With the theme ‘E&P 2.0- Transforming and Shaping the Future’, this year’s ATCE is very topical, especially given current market conditions. Challenging times provide great opportunities. We need to look back, reform and transform and then move forward with a clear vision to reach a prosperous future.

The importance of this event to our industry can be seen just by the high number of technical paper proposals we received this year: over 2100, which the Programme Committee reviewed carefully and accepted more than 400 papers for 58 technical sessions. Special topical and regional sessions have been included to address short-term and long-term challenges facing the industry around the world.

The conference will provide opportunities for us to learn and collaborate, while the exhibition will showcase the latest state-of-the-art oil and gas technologies from around the world - from float shoes, through well site data managing systems, to carbon capture.

Ground-breaking technology demonstrations will also be seen in the ENGeniuous Theatre - an interactive, educational space in the exhibition hall. Technologies that meet the following four criteria will be showcased interactively with 10 minute tech talks: a new technology, innovation, proven technical content that is commercially available and the potential to create a significant business impact. Historically, this has been a successful event, and we anticipate even greater participation this year due to the important role the Middle East plays in the world energy market.

Industry future

Another important element of ATCE is the energy4me programme, which helps stimulate the oil and gas professionals of the future. The programme is designed to help science teachers make science interesting by educating them about innovative teaching techniques and technologies they could be using (e.g. interactivity and 3D visualisation). The programme also demonstrates the use and importance of oil and gas, from transportation to the manufacture of medicine. Students will have the opportunity to practice E&P-related activities hands-on in a high technology environment. Programmes such as these are vital in light of the Great Crew Change. With a large proportion of older generation workers retiring and insufficient younger workers coming in to replace them, educating students and teachers about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers has never been more important for the oil and gas industry.

ATCE is the biggest international technical event for SPE. It will bring leaders and professionals from NOCs, IOCs and service providers to Dubai from 25 - 28 September to enhance understanding and collaboration among people of all ages, from all around the world. By promoting technology development and application, SPE aims to help advance the oil and gas community and prepare it to tackle great challenges faced regionally and globally.

As SPE is a not-for-profit organisation, income from events such as ATCE is invested back into the organisation to support other programmes that educate the industry. By participating in the event, even more opportunities can be provided to industry professionals to enhance their technical knowledge and competence. In the last five years alone, more than US$14 million of the money SPE raised has been spent on scholarships and support for universities.

Edited from an article written by Khalid Zainalabedin

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