The Energy Transition is gaining momentum. That was clear from the COP26 UN climate change meeting in Glasgow in November 2021. Governments are under pressure to act as extreme climate-related events fuel public anxiety and demands for change from environmental activists. The energy resource industries themselves are being increasingly challenged by their stakeholders to provide a credible path to net zero emissions.
In our opening forum we are inviting a panel of top energy industry leaders and analysts to plot the likely path of global energy transition. It should provide a compelling insight into how key actors involved in our energy future view the factors that will determine how – and how rapidly – energy transition will unfold.
A huge responsibility has fallen on energy-related companies to adapt their subsurface resource businesses to the challenge of the Energy Transition. Balancing this transition while meeting the need for continuing hydrocarbons exploration presents complex decisions in investment and strategies. This impact is immediately felt within the Exploration sector which stands at the forefront of the Upstream oil and gas cycle. Potential for new hydrocarbon plays, frontier exploration, and focusing on existing and near field production are all options with benefits and drawbacks.
We will be asking our panel of energy industry experts how the geography and technology of hydrocarbon exploration are changing and where the evolving role of the exploration function will inevitably lead.
Decarbonization of the world’s energy and industrial activities requires significant advances across a broad range of technologies. However, much of the recent focus has been around solar, wind and electrification. But this is only a part of the climate change mitigation story. Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) remains a critical component if we are to meet net zero goals. Recent political developments have revitalized interest in CCUS and is attracting new investment. Other subsurface solutions such as geothermal energy as well as underground storage of hydrogen are also attracting major interest, and who knows where increasing research and investment may lead. We do know that all these new industrial solutions raise important issues over environmental safety, regulation and social acceptance. These are factors that will affect a productive outcome.
The role of subsurface solutions in the push for decarbonisation is the urgent topic for our panellists. Their conclusions will be of crucial interest to both today’s geoscience and engineering community and the upcoming generation of professionals seeking to identify the skill sets likely to be required in this rapidly changing energy landscape.
We are on the cusp of a huge global demand for minerals and metals to make energy transition a reality. The facts speak for themselves. Production of minerals, such as graphite, lithium (for batteries) and cobalt, could increase by nearly 500% by 2050, according to a World Bank report. Of special interest is the mining code being considered for deepsea exploitation of minerals, currently being drafted by the International Seabed Authority, and moves to permit ocean bed mining in Norwegian territorial waters.
What these developments mean and the fresh opportunities that may be opening up for our geoscience and engineering professions will be discussed by our panel of leading experts.