Cleantech Group convened its first official Oil & Gas Innovation Summit on May 8-9, 2013, in Calgary, Canada, in partnership with the Government of Canada, Cenovus Energy, General Electric, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). This small, invite-only gathering brought together some of the most important companies in the Canadian Oil Sands and a number of the world’s Oil & Gas majors to discuss the evolving ecosystem of venture-driven innovation in the sector, as well as to evaluate eight early-stage startups that we handpicked to present to the audience on diverse topics including upgrading, water treatment, and pipeline technologies.
This week's indicator is 2017, which, according to the International Energy Agency, is the year the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's leading oil producer. The U.S. is projected to be a net exporter of oil by 2030.
This piece was featured on GreenBiz.
In 2008, the US Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that the Arctic region contains “90 billion barrels of oil and 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas."1 For relative context, these natural gas estimates are more than six times US domestic reserve estimates.2 Put another way, one third of global undiscovered, potentially recoverable natural gas reserves lie in the Arctic.3
As Arctic ice coverage shrinks, industry is expanding exploration in this region, asserting that extraction and accident response technology is appropriate for this environment. Advances include production rigs that operate on the sea bed and reinforced tankers that break through ice. As put by Geir Utskot, an Arctic executive for Schlumberger Oilfield Services, "Technology will not hold up Arctic resource development.”4 (See Shell’s video presenting their Arctic preparedness, though note their containment systems are conceptual designs, not existing technology.)5
However, exploring unchartered territory is arguably a situation that warrants caution, not haste, and requires more than technology to get it right. Recent oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and Yellowstone National Park—supposedly mature operations—illustrate the importance of examining the presumed norms of industry operations, not just technology, in order to avoid undermining culture, reputation, perceived capabilities, and, potentially, license to operate.
It’s hard to go a day without seeing fracking in the news. For a sense of how expansively this issue has captured our collective attention one need look no further than the almost parallel actions last month by the Texas House and the French government, not to mention the activist rappers.
For those who haven’t been following these stories, fracking is a process that injects pressurized fluids into shale formations to crack the rock and forcibly release the previously locked up natural gas.
I must confess that I too have contributed to this reportage. The premise of my piece focused on the need and opportunity for the industry to be proactive and address the concerns associated with fracking – think groundwater contamination from natural gas, potentially harmful components of the pressurized fluids injected, and even more significant GHG emissions -- as a way to demonstrate leadership and to capitalize on this potentially vast, untapped resource.