The Net-Zero Emission Goal & Strategy

The United Nations adopted the framework on climate in the UNFCCC in 1992, with the object of counteracting serious climatic consequences, by controlling greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at sustainable levels. In the Kyoto Protocol (1997) and later the Paris Agreement (2015), signatory countries adopted a specific target for limiting global warming to pre-industrial levels. It was agreed, that to prevent cataclysmic impacts of climatic change, greenhouse house gases (GHG) emissions would need to reduce by half by 2030, and then reach net-zero by 2050. As of June 2020, nearly 120 nations have pledged to work toward their net-zero goals partnering with the Climate Ambition Alliance.

As things stand today, the global economy is still heavily dependent on oil and gas as a principal energy source. However, governments have taken the global lead in becoming fully decarbonized economies by 2050.  The oil and gas industry was one of the first industry sectors to accede to partnering with governments towards this goal. While the set target is challenging, studies conducted by regulators and supporting bodies have identified certain key strategies to halve GHG emissions by 2030, and then further reduce it to 90% by 2040. Some of these measures include

  • Transformation in operations.
  • Integration of offshore energy systems (oil and gas, renewables, hydrogen and carbon capture use & storage).
  • Reductions in unwanted flaring and venting.
  • Capex investments to decarbonize production operations.
  • Decommissioning installations.
  • Improved monitoring of emissions.
  • Carbon capture, use and storage.

Reducing Carbon Footprint in O&G installations.

Some of the initiatives undertaken by companies include changes in operational processes, such as vapour recovery, reducing venting, improvements in predictive maintenance and leak detection and repair. Oil and gas companies are developing systems for better asset integrity and condition-based monitoring, drone-based surveillance and controlling fugitive emissions. Organizations are increasingly focussing on operational efficiency through energy efficient equipment, replacing diesel engines with electrical drives, transitioning to compressed air systems, optimizing steam usage in operations, and improving vessel and fleet management.

Role of Digitalization.

Digitalization is a key enabler in this drive towards reducing emissions and facilitating integration with other energy systems. Many companies already utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to varying degrees to quantify and monitor its operations, aiding in optimizing energy utilization.

Tech27’s Deck Management System (DMS) helps offshore installations to optimise deck space utilisation by using intelligent algorithms that reduce the number of cargo lifts for efficient use of energy and thus reducing carbon emissions. Advanced analytics with Cloud and Big Data aid in better supply boat location monitoring  and fuel usage reduction.

Integrated and remote monitoring systems such as 3D Inview will help optimise asset performance by remotely connecting with onshore subject matter experts using real time video streaming and augmented reality markup. This dynamic and remote engagement with offshore worker helps to avoid costly offshore trips reducing carbon emission.

Advanced predictive maintenance systems, leak detection and repair technology using Fiivesense AI, proactively monitor and measure the productivity of critical assets and thereby help manage carbon emission dependent processes.

Oil and gas companies can also use Monata IoT energy sensors and drones along with AI and big data analytics to keep checks and compute energy utilization and carbon emissions. This would help to explore means to further reduce carbon footprint, electrify rigs, and build subsea energy alternatives. Visualization and modelling technologies would also aid in cost benefit analysis in the implementation of various potential low emission strategies.

Other strategies

In the scope of strategies towards net zero emissions, organizations are looking to change entire business models, moving towards renewable power, changing sources of purchased power, widening the scope of electrification, utilizing alternate fuels in fleets, and optimizing corporate energy use.

In the long run, committed organizations strive to engage in reducing carbon intensity in the products sold. Carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) and generating blue/green hydrogen from the process, as well as carbon offset credits are other approaches to carbon mitigation.

Challenges ahead

Major oil basins across the world have matured, with many being a mix of assets, with recently installed along with those operational for over 50 years. The intensity of emissions typically increases over the age of an asset while production levels decline. E&P operations have also increased in complexity having moved into deeper waters, increasing energy utilization. While emissions intensity should continue to decrease whilst staying competitive, oil companies must innovate with a concerted effort, driving energy efficiency and reducing emissions and waste gas generation.

Many existing technologies would become increasingly scalable and common business practices in the next decade or two.  Predictive maintenance and automated operations would be the prevailing operating standard by 2030. By 2040, emphasis would be on moving offshore operations to shore side support and expanding the level of unmanned, autonomous and subsea development. For this, companies would have to adapt and scale existing solutions quickly. To reach the net zero target, there is a need for industry wide collaborations whilst narrowing the innovation and investment gap presently seen. Digital innovation and technology would be at the forefront in accelerating toward this goal.