Innovation is critical to the future success of the oil and gas industry (Wood, 2014), particularly when addressing the challenges that the industry is facing. However, the sector has a reputation for being conservative, insular in its collaborative efforts and reluctant to adopt new technology.
As a way of addressing this, the TechX programme at the Oil & Gas Technology Centre has launched TechX Ventures in July 2018 – a partnership with Deep Science Ventures (DSV) – that combines deep science with engineering to create the next generation of start-up companies with technologies that will position the oil and gas industry for a sustainable future in a low carbon economy.
The start of the programme was a workshop held with industry, academia and the scientific community, to identify areas where new thinking and technology could open up significant opportunities. Three challenge themes were developed, each of which became an opportunity areas for DSV to address. These are:
Carbon negative operations - Effective, large scale, affordable carbon capture and storage solutions are essential to meet global emissions targets. TechX Ventures seeks to create new technologies that will allow the capture of carbon at source, safe storage and conversion to other useful products such as graphene and hydrogen.
Automated oil and gas - Oil and gas is playing catch-up with other industries, such as automotive and aerospace, when it comes to adopting robotics, automation and artificial intelligence. TechX Ventures aims to apply recent advances in these areas to North Sea operations to improve safety, enhance production efficiency and automate the decommissioning process.
Energy movement/storage - Extracting, transporting, storing and using oil and gas presents many challenges. TechX Ventures wants to revolutionise the movement and storage of energy from well to customer by creating technologies which convert the reserves to electrical energy at source, store and transport electrical energy and convert currently wasteful processes e.g. gas flaring to electrical energy.
As part of the TechX Ventures programme, DSV recruited thirty scientists and engineering experts from across the world to tackle the opportunity areas and at the end of the nine-month programme a total of six new start-up companies with new intellectual property were created and invested in by DSV. Of these six, two were selected to join the coveted TechX Pioneer accelerator programme run by OGTC in Aberdeen. These companies are called Eltera and Optic Earth.