Learn how ORLEN Upstream, the largest fuel and energy company in Central Eastern Europe, was able to achieve operational benefits and high QHSE standards by using TenarisHydril Dopeless® technology during their operations in Poland.
The Health and Safety Executive has written to all oil and gas operators expressing concern about the number of gas releases in the industry.
The regulator said some had come “perilously close to disaster” and that more needed to be done to tackle them.
The HSE said a “lack of leadership” was often to blame for leaks, and called for firms to review their processes.
Operators have until July to respond with a summary of their planned improvements.
The HSE has written to operators ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster. The platform exploded in July 1988, leaving 167 men dead.
It said it had become concerned by the number of releases still happening.
The plan is to then feed back the findings to the sector at an event later in the year.
Chris Flint, the HSE’s director of energy division, said: “Every HCR (hydrocarbon release) is a safety threat, as it represents a failure in an operator’s management of its risks.
“I recognise the steps the industry has taken to reduce the overall number of HCRs, however HCRs remain a concern, particularly major HCRs because of their greater potential to lead to fires, explosions and multiple losses of life.
“There have been several such releases in recent years that have come perilously close to disaster.”
He added: “Experience from our investigations is that HCRs typically happen because there have been failings across the board.
“If you get the safety culture right, staff will be much more likely to spot hazards, challenge when standards aren’t right, and be engaged in improvement.”
Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive Deirdre Michie said: “As the HSE recognise in the letter sent to our members, our industry has delivered “a substantial and welcome downward trend in the total number of HCRs since 2005.
“However, we all know there is never room for complacency.
“We understand why the HSE wants to highlight areas where industry can further improve and we continue to work closely with them to reduce hydrocarbon releases.
“The industry is committed to ensuring lessons are learned and good practice is shared, and look forward to using the results of this initiative to progress this important work.”
In 2012, a leak on Total’s Elgin platform continued for 51 days.
The company was fined more than £1m.
HOUSTON, May 2, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — ION Geophysical Corporation (NYSE: IO) today announced acquisition began on a new 2D multi-client program offshore Ghana in partnership with Geoex and Ghana Geophysical.
ION and its partners will acquire up to 7,200 km of data in advance of the license round anticipated in late 2018 to help refine understanding of the hydrocarbon potential of the area. Similar to other ION BasinSPAN™ programs, West Equatorial AfricaSPAN was custom designed in collaboration with regional experts and clients to answer remaining geological questions with a survey tied to recent discoveries. This data will be the first offshore Ghana to image 40 km below the seafloor. In addition, ION’s Marlin™ operations optimization software will help maximize the safety and efficiency of the survey. Acquisition is expected to be completed at the end of May 2018 with Fast Track products available in Q3 2018 and final imaging products expected in Q1 2019.
Ghana is believed to have up to 5-7 billion barrels of petroleum and up to 6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in reserves and has renewed interest due to new projects coming online and the resolution of the maritime boundary dispute with Côte d’Ivoire in September 2017. The Ghanaian Government is transitioning from an open door system to its first competitive bid round due to the petroleum legislation passed in August 2016 making its petroleum resource management more transparent.
“We are excited to support the Ghanaian government as the country prepares for its next offshore license round with the stated goal to attract additional investment to develop their reserves,” said Joe Gagliardi, Senior Vice President of ION’s E&P Business Development group. “The new data we are acquiring will help a number of E&P companies properly evaluate the offshore acreage in advance of the country’s first competitive bid round later this year.”
To learn more, visit iongeo.com/WEASPAN.
ION develops and leverages innovative technologies, creating value through data capture, analysis and optimization to enhance critical decision-making, enabling superior returns. For more information, visit iongeo.com.
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Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Steve Bate, +1 281.552.3011
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Like many industries today, the oil industry is trying to sell its many job opportunities to the fastest growing portion of the global workforce: Millennials.
But unlike any other industry, oil and gas are facing more challenges in persuading the environmentally-conscious Millennials that oil is “cool”.
During the Super Bowl earlier this year, the American Petroleum Institute (API) launched an ad geared toward Millennials, who now make up the largest generation in the U.S. labor force.
“This ain’t your daddy’s oil”, the ad says, in what API described as “a modern look at how oil is integrated into products consumers use now and in the future supported by bold visuals.”
Despite its pitch to speak the Millennials’ language and reach out to the elusive generation, the ad sparked anger among many consumers and viewers.
Millennials continue to have the most negative opinion of the oil industry compared to all other industries, and they don’t see a career in oil and gas as their top choice of a workplace. The oil industry’s talent scouting and recruiting methods of the past are failing to reach Millennials, who want their work to have a positive impact on society, various studies and polls have found—a rather big ask for the oil industry.
This failure to reach the group that makes up the largest portion of today’s workforce—which now surpasses Generation X—points to a huge problem for the oil sector, as Baby Boomers move into retirement in droves.
Not only are Millennials snubbing oil and gas because of its negative image, they also seek different job perks than previous generations sought, and in this regard, the oil industry will need to do more as it becomes increasingly obvious that Millennials want different things than what oil executives think they want.
A total of 14 percent of Millennials say they would not want to work in the oil and gas industry because of its negative image—the highest percentage of any industry, McKinsey said in September 2016.
Young people see the industry as dirty, difficult, and dangerous, according to an EY survey published last month. EY’s survey polled Millennials—the 20-to-35-year-olds today—as well as Generation Z coming after them and found that younger generations “question the longevity of the industry as they view natural gas and oil as their parents’ fuels. Further, they primarily see the industry’s careers as unstable, blue-collar, difficult, dangerous and harmful to society.”
In addition, two out of three teens believe the oil and gas industry causes problems rather than solves them, the survey showed.
So ‘not your daddy’s oil’ is not sinking in with Millennials and Generation Z, and with many of them, it never will, despite the oil lobbies’ marketing efforts to try to make it sound like an attractive career path.
According to executives polled by EY, the top three drivers for young people would be salary (72 percent), opportunity to use the latest technology (43 percent), and a good work-life balance (38 percent). But young people—although they are also prioritizing salary—have other views on what they look for in a job. Salary is still the top priority at 56 percent, but a close second comes good work-life balance (49 percent), with job stability and on-the-job happiness equally important at 37 percent.
Executives are underestimating the importance of work-life balance and stability for Millennials while overestimating the allure of technology as a factor. It’s not surprising that Millennials are not as attracted to the opportunity to use new tech as oil executives believe they are – Millennials generally don’t see technology as a perk, they take it for granted.
Moreover, Millennials don’t see the oil and gas industry as innovative – a major driver of career choice among this generation. According to a recent report by Accenture, “Despite evidence to the contrary, many Millennials believe the sector is lacking innovation, agility, and creativity, as well as opportunities to engage in meaningful work. In fact, only 2 percent of U.S. college graduates consider the oil and gas industry their top choice for employment.”
Accenture is warning that ‘the talent well has run dry’ and said:
“We believe the growing workforce deficit will, in fact, be a greater barrier to oil and gas companies’ upturn success than any deficits that might exist in capital equipment or supplies.”
The oil and gas industry is losing the competition for talent recruitment to industries that are more appealing to Millennials, and U.S. oil and gas firms will face the talent crunch first, according to Accenture.
“Any mature industry has to think about the fact that there’s a new sheriff in town with new values, new spending habits,” Jeff Fromm, an expert in marketing to American Millennials, told Bloomberg.
And if the oil and gas industry wants to get this ‘new sheriff in town’ on board, it needs to profoundly change recruitment strategies and talent sourcing. But with the negative image that is probably set to become even more negative—despite oil organizations’ marketing efforts—oil and gas have a huge workforce problem looming.
Get the latest Oil WTI price here.
Operation is planned to start in the latter half of 2018, shipping products from YARA’s Porsgrunn production plant to Brevik and Larvik in Norway.
Published on May 9, 2017
Washington — OSHA has published a fact sheet intended to help employers comply with the agency’s standard on worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica (1910.1053) for general industry and maritime.
The fact sheet highlights steps employers are required to take to protect employees, including assessing workplace exposures, establishing written exposure control plans and providing worker training.
The final rule lowers the permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica for all industries to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift.
Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone. Exposure to silica dust can trigger silicosis, a chronic disease that involves scarring of the lungs. OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to the dust, including 2 million in construction.
OSHA issued its final rule as separate standards – one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. Both standards went into effect in June 2016; however, general industry and maritime have until June 23 to comply, except in the following areas:
Medical surveillance must be available by June 23, 2020, to employees who will be exposed to levels at or above the action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift for 30 or more days a year.
Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must institute – by June 23, 2021 – dust controls to limit exposures to the new PEL.
Over the next decade, oil and gas companies have a huge challenge and major responsibility to significantly reduce their carbon footprint and address climate change.
Ernesto Santibanez Borda, a PhD researcher in the Earth Sciences & Engineering Department at Imperial College is looking to help these companies choose the best method for limiting emissions associated with using and transporting natural gas. We interviewed him about his work with Professor Anna Korre.
1. What problem you are trying to solve/address in your PhD?
We recognize that hydrocarbon companies are faced with an enormous task to figure out how to reduce their emissions dramatically in a cost-effective and efficient way while providing energy for increased world consumption. While predictions from the International Energy Agency (IEA) outline gas consumption growth as the fastest among all fossil fuels resulting in a possible gas-carbon demand parity by 2040, there are still significant emissions from natural gas.
My PhD research focuses on the natural gas supply chain including the stages of production, processing, and transport through pipelines or as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). It is about developing an intelligent approach to choosing which technologies could be adopted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in a cost efficient way.
The idea is to also consider market conditions and policy related uncertainties to help strategic decision-making.
2. That sounds like a big project. So, what steps are involved in your PhD?
My PhD can be divided into three main parts.
First, I will use the Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) methodology to understand the full extent of greenhouse gas emissions in the natural gas supply chain. This involves assessing all environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the natural gas supply chain from extraction through to distribution.
I am using models developed by the MERG (Minerals, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Group) at Imperial College but I will also develop new ways. These models differ from the majority available in the market as there is a greater degree of accuracy in the estimation, most of the emissions are calculated based on material balance principles (which means accounting for material entering and leaving a system), and engineering calculations.
The second part is establishing the costs associated with each technological path using the Life Cycle Costing (LCC) methodology. When companies try to estimate their emissions through LCA, they can often see ways to reduce their emissions by adopting specific technologies. But in order to be able to implement those changes it is important to cost all those options.
The final step is to determine the best combination of technologies and practices that minimise environmental impacts and costs in order to aid industry decision-making. We are doing this through multi-objective optimisation which is a technique that models a problem mathematically and minimises or maximises mutually excluding objectives. In this case, we want to see how low the emissions can be, if we spend a specific amount of money.
3. Is your PhD part of a larger body of work at Imperial College? Who else are you working with?
Yes, I work within Department of Earth Science and Engineering in the MERG group underthe supervision of Professor Anna Korre and Dr. Zhenggang Nie.
The developed models are currently being tested in different case studies, some of them provided by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative project in which we are involved in, and the results will be compared with the reported emissions/costs and benchmark values from literature to validate our results. We also want to analyse case studies from the Brazilian natural gas value chain.
I have also been working with the Sustainable Gas Institute, and using a lot of data from Dr Paul Balcombe’s paper (Methane & CO2 emissions from the natural gas supply chain).
4. Why are you concentrating on LNG?
Projections by IEA state that by 2040 inter-regional gas trade can expand by up to more than 40%, and LNG’s share of inter-regional gas trade can increase from 10 to 50%.
In addition, we believe that an optimisation assessment of the environmental impacts and costs of the LNG processes has still not been thoroughly addressed considering the impacts it has on other parts of the natural gas value chain.
5. What motivated you to work in energy research?
Energy is vital to the international economy, but there are still so many challenges; improving efficiency, and reducing our environmental impact as well as meeting increasing global demand.
I found the research around finding ways to meet global demand while making sure we keep to the environmental targets set by the latest international commitments quite fascinating. Seeing companies in the energy sector get involved also encouraged me to join this research area.
Finally, I like the work of integrating different knowledge disciplines such as hydrocarbon processing, operations research, and environmental assessment in order to produce a tool that could be used to make intelligent decisions that have a wide impact.
6. What attracted you or influenced you to becoming an engineer?
At secondary school, I realized I was interested in maths and science, so it was natural to start looking at careers that are related to those subjects, and engineering specifically caught my attention because it is practical and helps model, and find reasonable solutions for daily problems faced by individuals, companies or the society.
The fact that it does not just involve hard calculations, but can also integrate other disciplines into the decision-making also fascinated me because it opened a whole world of options on how to approach a specific problem.
Ernesto Santibanez Borda is a Brazilian and Chilean national. He holds a BSc Engineering from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, and MSc Petroleum Engineering from Imperial College London.
He also has 2 years of experience as production planning engineer in Escondida mine, operated by BHP Billiton (Chile)
By Zara Qadir
Satellite measurement is an ideal method for monitoring methane emissions from shale gas operations. Current methods require crews to visit each facility on a regular basis, whereas GHGSat’s high resolution satellites can identify superemitters through periodic surveys of all shale gas operations, without any on-site equipment, at a fraction of the cost of current methods.
As of 2019, GHGSat aircraft measurements will provide very-high resolution measurements of shale gas plays to complement GHGSat satellite measurements. Very high resolution measurements from GHGSat aircraft sensors will enable detection of smaller leaks, and localize those leaks within a facility to facilitate repair. GHGSat aircraft sensors will leverage the same post-processing toolchain used by its satellites, thereby cross-validating results and providing cost-effective aircraft services.
GHGSat’s “tiered solution” will combine satellite and aircraft measurements in a single service to detect approximately 90% of all methane leaks (by volume) from shale gas operations. This service is unique – no other company can combine both satellite and aircraft measurements in a single, cost-effective service for shale gas operators.
Today, AI is helping the oil and gas industry chart its future course. Since no previous sources have provided an in-depth look at the impact of AI among the leading oil and gas companies, we set out in this week’s research to help answer questions that oil and gas leaders are asking:
What types of AI are applications currently in use by leading oil and gas companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell?
What (if any) results have been reported on AI applications implemented by leading companies in the oil and gas industry?
Are there any common trends among their innovation efforts – and how could these trends affect the future of the oil and gas industry?
This article seeks to provide a comprehensive look at applications of AI by the five leading oil and gas companies. Our ranking of companies is based on the Forbes’ 2017 Global 2000 ranking of the world’s biggest public companies.
Through facts and figures we aim to provide pertinent insights for business leaders and professionals interested in how AI is impacting the petroleum industry.
Prior to exploring the applications, we’ll present the common patterns that emerged from our research in this industry.
Artificial Intelligence in Oil and Gas – Insights Up Front
The most popular AI applications from the top five industry leaders currently appear to be:
Intelligent robots – Robots designed with AI capabilities for hydrocarbon exploration and production, to improve productivity and cost-effectiveness while reducing worker risk (see ExxonMobil and Total below)
Virtual assistants – Online chat platform that helps customers navigate product databases and processes general inquiries using natural language (see Royal Dutch Shell below)
In the full article below, we’ll explore the AI applications of each company individually. We will begin with ExxonMobil, the #1 ranked company in this industry based on the Forbes’ 2017 Global 2000 ranking of the world’s biggest public companies.
Among its ongoing collaborative efforts with approximately 80 universities in the U.S. and abroad, In December 2016, ExxonMobil announced that it is working with MIT to design AI robots for ocean exploration. Brian Williams, an MIT professor and a designer of the AI software that helped create NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover is a key member of the project team.
While the business advantage of using AI in deep-sea exploration may not be immediately apparent, the company aims to apply AI to boost its natural seep detection capabilities. Natural seeps occur when oil escapes from rock found in the ocean floor. An estimated 60 percent of oil underneath the earth’s surface in North America is due to natural seeps. Robots with the ability to navigate these oceanic regions and detect oil seeps can contribute to protecting the ecosystem and serve as indicators for robust energy resources. It is unclear specifically when ExxonMobil’s ocean exploring AI robots are expected to be deployed.
A visual depiction of natural oil seeps (source)
As a founding member of MIT’s Energy Initiative, ExxonMobil has committed a reported $25 million over 5 years to support energy research conducted by MIT faculty and staff. While the company has not published the total amount invested across its 80 university collaborations, we can gain some insight from the following published figures:
Princeton University: $5 million over 5 years
The University of Texas at Austin: $15 million
“Our goal is to have these submersibles embody the reasoning of the scientists that program them. You want the explorer to do the science without the scientist there. They need to be able to analyze data, keep themselves out of harm’s way and determine novel solutions in novel situations that go beyond basic mission programming. They need to have some common sense and the ability to learn from their mistakes.” – Professor Brian Williams, MIT
ExxonMobil’s MIT robotics collaboration (source)
Through its partnership with the MIT Energy Initiative and related efforts, ExxonMobil has made energy efficiency and the exploration of new energy sources a core focus of its business priorities. According to its 2016 annual report, the company has reportedly invested roughly $7 billion since the year 2000 on R&D and “deploying emissions-reducing technologies.” The company does not itemize allocations for these technologies and specifics on AI were not published.
Royal Dutch Shell
In August 2015, Shell announced that it would be the first company in the lubricants sector to launch an AI assistant for customers (an anomaly in terms of applications of artificial intelligence in oil and gas). Normally, customers searching for lubricants and related products must navigate a large database in order to find the ideal product(s) they are searching for. Shell aims to use its avatars, Emma and Ethan, to help customers discover products using natural language.
The Shell Virtual Assistant functions through an online chat platform through the company’s website. Examples of information that the system can provide include where lubricants are available for purchase, a range of available pack sizes and general information regarding the technical properties of specific products.
To provide context, the company claims that its Shell Virtual Assistant:
Handles over 100,000 data sheets for 3,000 products
Provides information on 18,000 different pack sizes
Understands 16,500 physical characteristics of lubricants
Matches Shell products to 10,000 competitive products
The Shell Virtual Assistant is only currently available in the U.S. and U.K. but also complements four other Shell services including Shell LubeMatch which reportedly provides “over two million product recommendations for Shell customers” annually and is accessible across 138 countries in 21 languages.
An infographic representing the claims made about Shell Virtual Assistant – from Shell’s website
We were able to access the virtual assistant on the company’s website. In a note to users posted above the platform, Shell states that the virtual assistant is still in pilot mode and that efforts are ongoing to increase the knowledge of the virtual assistants and to monitor their effectiveness.
At tech emergency, we have become increasingly wary of “chatbot” and “virtual assistant” efforts that present an innovative story without a substantive business application. It is difficult to assess the genuine business value of the Shell Virtual Assistant at this time, but we tend to air on the side of caution, and we encourage our business readers to do the same (we have collected a series of chatbots that do appear to be driving business value today, and we highlight them in our “7 chatbot use cases” article).
It behooves any company to present an exciting and innovative front in the press – and chatbots seem to be a “low hanging fruit” for supposed AI applications. This is by no means a warning that we specifically state for Shell – all press-facing technology initiatives serve the purpose of molding perceptions about the company (the goes for every industry). We do our best to dig for the genuine business ROI of AI applications, and we advise our readers to approach applications and press releases with skepticism, bearing in mind the motives of the companies behind them (which do not have to be malicious to be misleading and falsely optimistic).
Similar to Shell LubeMatch, the company is also looking to expand the service to other countries and languages.
Shell’s R&D expenditures in 2016 totalled $1.014 billion. While specifics on AI were not reported, according to its Investor’s Handbook, R&D priorities are focused on “improving the efficiency of its products, processes, and operations”, and there is a concentration on developing technologies which support low-carbon energy.
Shell’s innovation in collaboration with Subsea 7 has created an Autonomous Inspection Vehicle
that claims to provide safer and better inspections – at a significant cost savings
In the future, the company reportedly seeks to integrate AI and automation into its facilities. Shell envisions that automated robots will be able to take over routine observational tasks and data gathering currently conducted by human employees. The company reportedly integrated a virtual assistant called Amelia into its business model to more efficiently respond to inquiries from suppliers regarding invoicing.
Shell believes the future of AI in its industry will see a significant increase in unmanned and automated facilities.
China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec)
Sinopec has hinted at the role of AI in moving innovation forward in the oil and gas industry. The company boasts a long-term plan to roll out construction of 10 intelligent plants with a goal of a 20 percent reduction in operation costs.
On the manufacturing front, Huawei (Chinese telecom company) in April 2017 announced a collaborative effort involving Sinopec to design what is described as a “smart manufacturing platform.”
The platform description highlights AI as one of 8 core capabilities of the platform which aims to deliver a centralized method of data management and support integration of data across multiple applications used to manage factory operations.
AI would serve to establish rules and models that would inform how data is interpreted and offer opportunities for identifying valuable insights to improve factory operations. Huawei did not specify a timeline for when Sinopec is expected to fully implement the platform.
Hydrocarbon exploration, the ability to map and identify oil and natural gas deposits beneath the earth’s surface, is a growing area of focus in the oil and gas industry. However, more innovative and environmentally-friendly methods of achieving improved effectiveness and efficiency are needed in the field. Environmental conditions are increasingly challenging for workers conducting hydrocarbon exploration thus technology capable of handling the task while retaining optimal functionality is highly desirable.
In an effort to establish what is described as the “first autonomous surface robots able to operate on oil & gas sites,” Total launched an international competition in December 2013. Total’s ARGOS challenge (Autonomous Robot for Gas & Oil Sites) was narrowed down to five teams hailing from Europe, Asia and South America who were provided with a maximum of three years to finalize their prototypes. For each of the 5 teams, Total provided a maximum of €600,000 (approximately $707,376) to support research and design, and a single prize of €500, 000 (approximately $589,522.50) for the winning robot.
AI was a key component of how the robot would function. Total expected that competitors ensure that their robots were able to deliver reports encompassing real-time data collection related to inspection points (locations where exploration is taking place) and analyses around the effectiveness of the locations of interest.
Total established key goals for the ARGOS robot:
The ability to carry out inspections, during the day or night, which are currently performed by humans.
The ability to detect abnormal equipment activity and intervene in an emergency. Examples may include simple equipment malfunctions or more high-risk situations such as gas leaks.
In May 2017, Total selected ARGONAUTS designed by a team from Austria and Germany as its winner. Total retains exclusive intellectual rights to the technology behind the ARGONAUTS robot for a period of five years. No further announcements have been made as to when the company will begin implementing ARGONAUTS.
Within its Exploration and Production segment, Total reports that over half of R&D allocations are focused on improving exploration capabilities; hydrocarbons and robotics are specifically mentioned. Innovation and R&D expenditures for oil and gas activities totaled $689 million in 2016.
(Readers with a specific interest in robotics and vehicles for the heavy industry may want to listen to our heavy industry-focused interview with Dr. Sam Kherat on our AI in Industry podcast.)
In June 2017, Gazprom and Yandex (described as Russia’s leading internet company) entered into a cooperation agreement for the implementation of new projects in the oil and gas industry. The two companies plan to tap into AI and machine learning to roll out their prospective initiatives.
Specifically, the collaboration is expected to focus on:
Drilling and well completion
Modeling oil-refining strategies
Optimizing other technological processes