The oil and gas industry faces three key questions with regard to sustainability. Can we transform oil and gas into a cleaner, efficient source of energy with minimum or zero-net CO2 emissions? How do we use technology to transform our industry to a low-carbon-intensity industry to help in addressing the global climate change challenge, while extending the economic and social benefits of oil and gas to improve human lifestyle on earth? Can we scientifically and globally measure the sustainability performance of our industry with respect to the following four pillars: environmental impact, economic growth, social development, and lifestyle improvements?
These are very challenging questions facing our industry. Without addressing the environmental concerns related to our industry, we risk our ability to operate globally and hinder our ability to attract talent. I believe that with the best practices, the right strategy, adequate R&D investment, and the right technology deployment, our industry can and will achieve these goals. I have spoken in prior columns about the fact oil and gas will be part of the energy mix well into the future, and about the significant economic and social development our industry produces. Given global opinion, we have no choice except to develop and use technology to transform our industry to be a low-carbon industry with minimum environmental impact across the entire oil and gas value chain.
As I have met with oil ministers, CEOs, and executives around the world, I believe our industry is on the right track toward establishing the required infrastructure to achieve these goals in the mid-to-long term. If we look at our industry across the upstream, midstream, and downstream sectors, we see hundreds of best practices and advanced technologies that can be linked directly to our sustainability performance and its four pillars mentioned above. My February column focused on how technology was helping our transformation on the supply side. In this column I would like to look at how R&D and technology are improving our environmental performance.
The upstream sector (exploration, drilling, and production) requires large amounts of energy to extract oil and gas from reservoirs and transport it to surface facilities through subsurface tubing and gathering lines, often going through harsh environments, including subsea. This provides many opportunities for improved energy efficiency, which reduces costs and is therefore good business practice. Upstream is also a technology-intensive sector, where new technologies have been deployed, helping the sector to be more sustainable.