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Decarbonisation in the Oil and Gas Industry

The race is on to implement energy transition strategies in a bid to tackle climate change and introduce cleaner, low-carbon energy alternatives across the Globe. Since the adoption of the COP21 Paris Agreement, the oil and gas industry have been working to reduce their global carbon emissions to net zero. The US, EU and China have targets to be carbon neutral (zero greenhouse gas emissions) by 2050.

Fossil fuels are the single largest source of carbon emissions, so how can the energy industry successfully balance decarbonisation goals with the demand for oil and gas?

Five ways the oil and gas industry can transition towards renewable energy to bring C02 levels to a more sustainable level

1. Automations

By implementing automation into the upstream or downstream process, an oil or gas company can achieve maximum performance out of machinery during operations. This is particularly relevant in planning and exploration activities which require a lot of high-risk and high-investment machinery. By reducing the manual element of a process and implementing new, innovative processes based on technology and science, it is possible to increase energy efficiency and reduce waste.

2. Investment in renewable energy

Investing in hydroelectricity, solar or wind technology can significantly reduce a company’s carbon footprint and get a step closer to decarbonisation goals. These technologies are big investments, however, and dependant on finding the right location and terrain to develop these energy sources. Wind and solar power are also dependent on the weatherAs more money is invested in renewable energy, the economies of scale and advances in technology will make it more affordable to use renewables as a mainstream way to produce energy. In 2020, despite the impact of the Pandemic, the share of renewable energy in total electricity generation reached 40% - a 4% increase compared to 2019.

3. AI-powered analytics

Digital technology - and AI in particular - is the key to enabling energy transition. AI systems can coordinate multiple strands of data from the generation, transmission and use of energy, to give a full picture of a process cycle. This helps companies identify patterns that are used to learn more about a system and improve its performance. It can also help with future modelling based on known variables rather than educated estimates.

4. Carbon capture and storage

Experts are predicting that capturing carbon dioxide emissions will be the key to hitting crucial climate targets by 2050. Carbon can either be captured immediately after its release, or taken from the surrounding atmosphere. This technology will be especially useful for industries where it is difficult to find alternative operational processes to reduce the carbon footprint. Once the carbon is captured, it can either be used to create a new product or kept in storage.

5. Implementing business models that implement climate-focused Environment Social Governance (ESG) principles

Energy companies aren’t just expected to follow decarbonisation initiatives, they’re expected to take the lead. There’s an opportunity for forward-thinking companies to articulate clear messages to markets, governments, and the public about the need for sustainable energy transition and how they are achieving it.

Smart companies can take the lead by integrating focused initiatives relating to climate change into their ESG principles and putting the environment central to business considerations.

As economies across the globe strive to meet zero carbon emissions by 2050, the oil and gas industry must keep pace with the science, technology, and corporate mindset needed to reach the end goal.

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