OTC panel: Today’s ‘space race’ is in energy

Global energy demand is expected to jump 40 percent by 2030 and will play a major role in challenging the oil industry to produce and innovate in the years ahead, a panel of executives at the Offshore Technology Conference said today.

The world’s thirst for oil and other fossil fuels is expected to remain strong, and panelist said more than 80 percent of energy needs expected to be supported by oil, gas or coal by 2030.

However, the challenge will be to produce enough resources to meet demand while operating safely and efficiently, they said.

“I would say the oil and gas developments are becoming more challenging and the public at large is becoming more demanding,” said Matthias Bichsel, director of projects and technology for Shell.

The industry will have to rely on innovations and collaboration, by working together to develop new tools and approaches to production, to meet the needs of an increasingly power-hungry world culture, Bichsel said.

“It is really incredible what we are able to deliver, but at the same time what the public demands from us is even more incredible,” Bichsel said.

Derek Mathieson, president of western hemisphere operations for Baker Hughes, said the key to meeting growing demand would be advancements in technology in coming years.

“For me, I think the space race today is in the energy industry,” Mathieson said.

David Eyton, head of the research and technology group for BP, said advancements that improve the efficiency of energy consumption will also help meet the growing global demand.

Eyton displayed a chart showing that only about 12 percent of the current total energy potential of resources is actually consumed. Much of that potential is wasted, by inefficient production or power generation methods, among others, he said.

Some improvement is already underway with internal combustion engines expected to double in efficiency by 2030, Eyton said.

“That’s like taking a whole Saudi Arabia out of the world’s energy system,” he said.

Advancements in production of energy from renewable sources and increased efficiency is expected to help cut into the need for fossil fuels. However, Ali Moshiri, president of Africa and Latin America operations for Chevron, said the growing world demand will keep levels high and will drive continued oil production.

The simple reason is transportation, he said.

“Based on my opinion there is no substitute right now,” Moshiri said. “There wouldn’t be a substitute for the next 50 years. Therefore that’s the reality.”