This paper provides an overview of the landscape that exists at the interface of policy with technology. Oil & gas producers—especially small to mid-sized producers—will navigate this landscape as they focus on how to move—and at what pace they can move—toward their place in the low carbon economy. The pace of transition for each company is affected by the potential for and the availability of innovative subsurface technologies, and by government policies that direct and influence the transition. Specifically, this paper will describe new technology research pathways funded by the Federal government. Also, the policies associated with the direction of—and the contribution by petroleum engineers and other geoscientist—to technology development. This information will increase insights and understanding about what oil and gas companies can do today that builds value for the future.

Transition to a low carbon economy is influenced by many factors including innovative subsurface technologies, integration of new and existing technology, policies supporting technology development, world oil price, and demand for petrochemicals over the next 25 years. Department of Energy (DOE) sponsors development of technologies in support of the transition in part through investment of more than $62 billion appropriated pursuant to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Navigating the policy-technology landscape requires an understanding of both the goals of the transition and the role of oil and gas in 2050. Understanding the technology development needed and the policy incentives designed to stimulate the transition will benefit oil and gas producers and petroleum engineers, geoscientists, and service providers as they continue to develop their unique position on the path toward 2050.

New policies have been recently established through Presidential Executive Order to support the transition to a low carbon economy by 2050. These executive orders instruct Federal agencies on specific outcomes related to the transition. Further, recent legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress provide the incentives—including funding—needed to realize these outcomes. This paper describes initiatives, investments, and other actions being pursued by the Federal government to achieve the goals of the executive orders. A key feature of this paper is the comprehensive assessment of activities by the DOE that apply to both subsurface reservoirs and corresponding technology development, and their contribution to the transition to a low carbon economy.

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