The global energy demand is constantly rising due to urbanisation and population growth. Consequently, the petroleum industry has been ensuring affordable supply to match demand through exploitation and production of oil and gas. Nonetheless, there is increasing drive to shift towards renewables being an energy source that is ‘inexhaustible’, while decreasing the intensity of anthropogenic greenhouse gases as well as mitigating other negative environmental impacts of hydrocarbon field development. However, this shift is a threat to the upstream sector of the petroleum industry, specifically to petroleum engineering (PE), given its potential to lower hydrocarbon demand while raising carbon taxes of oil and gas companies.

Against this background, this paper takes a closer look at what lies ahead for PE in an emerging renewable energy (RE) world. It is shown that RE can be integrated into some conventional PE activities such as the use of solar energy for thermally enhanced-oil recovery and the application of its skillsets to advance the body of knowledge in geothermal engineering.

Despite RE's comparative advantages, it faces challenges in energy storage and intermittency of supply. The paper examines the influence of PE in some industries that depend on its products and relevant skill sets. It also explores the interplay between PE and other apparently remote industries is explored.

In conclusion, the future of PE is considered promising, though it needs to continuously re-invent itself. The reality is that it contributes not only to energy production, but many aspects of daily life. Compared to petroleum derivatives, the alternative products are yet to attain sufficient maturity for sustained large-scale utilisation. In principle, the breadth and depth of challenges that RE faces suggest that the world's dependence on PE is not likely to shift dramatically in the next couple of decades.

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