Nanotechnology is an emerging technology with the potential to effect revolutionary changes in several aspects of the oil and gas industry. While the advantages of nanotechnology in several small-scale downstream sections of the industry is well established, policy makers in the upstream section often tend to adopt a more conservative approach towards the emerging technologies. This is chiefly rooted in the comparatively extensive investments needed to impose any fundamental technology changes in this section, and the high level of economical risk involved.

However, since the impacts of any widespread technological revolution will be inevitably felt in every large-scale industry, adopting an astute strategy in regard to the incoming tides is of utmost importance. Such a strategy must determine the areas most prepared to accept technological changes so that the emerging technology will be accepted in a premeditated manner, minimizing the associated risks.

Regarding these considerations, in the present study, an extensive literature survey was conducted, with the aim of discerning those sections of the upstream oil and gas industry, where nanotechnology is potentially advantageous in providing technically and economically viable alternatives for present materials and technologies. This survey led to creation of a Technology Tree, which demonstrates these fields with the associated organic connections among them.

In the next step, a priority assessment was carried out to determine those areas of upstream industry most suitable for investment. For this aim, comprehensive questionnaires were prepared and distributed among a number of experts in nanotechnology and energy policy making. The pool of experts were carefully handpicked, so that the selected individuals would have considerable experience and expertise in fields such as nanotechnology, upstream oil industry, technology management and policy making.

The gathered feedback was then analyzed according to the AHP model, using software specifically engineered by the authors to include all the necessary criteria. At the end, a select-few of fields were found to have the highest priority for investment. Among these were Chemical EOR, i.e. application of polymeric nanocomposites specifically hydrogel nanocomposites for enhanced and improved oil recovery and taking advantage of nanostructured materials in producing high-efficiency water-based drilling fluids.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.