Jordan Blum, editorial director, Hart Energy: We are here at CERAWeek by S&P Global in Houston. I'm joined by Ken Gilmartin, the CEO of Wood. You all are poised to play a big role in carbon capture and storage to some extent, but it's an industry that's relatively in its infancy. I wanted to get your take on the potential, but also the challenges because these are really complicated projects and I think a lot of people don't understand the complexity that's involved.

Ken Gilmartin, CEO, Wood: Yeah, great question, thanks for that. This could go long.

JB: I understand.

KG: I think from a carbon capture standpoint, I think we all know in the industry that there is no net zero without carbon capture and carbon capture at scale. I think we're in the great position that we've been working in carbon capture projects for decades. We surprised ourselves when we looked back and looked at all of the FEED studies and carbon capture projects that have happened, and we've done more than 30% of them. So it's complex, it's complicated and there's a lot to go into it, but it's a huge opportunity I think in carbon capture, there's a technology piece that has to play here. There's a technology about the scale of where this will actually play in how you'll do this. There's an infrastructure issue associated with this. It is a huge amount of work that goes into pipelines, to build the infrastructure, to make sure that we can transport the CO2 to wherever that we need it to be. And I think for us as an engineering company that thrives in the complexity of solution, it is a lot of work for us.

JB: And then lots of monitoring and ongoing work for decades or in perpetuity, so to speak.

KG: Yeah, there is a lot of that iterative loop of ‘we're engineers as well’. What do engineers do? We adapt, we make better, we optimize and we continue to scale and improve. And I think that's the other piece that's interesting as well, is the lens of digitization has to play now. What you do with your data, how do you collect your data, how do you use it to optimize and improve as well? And that's another big thing that's probably changed in the industry significantly in the last 15 years and we'll continue to accelerate.

JB: Very good. I wanted to get your take as well on more traditional oil and gas and kind of the role that you all are playing in efficiencies and maybe like you said, the digital mobilization, machine learning and AI, and what really differentiates the two.

KG: I think the big piece at the moment for us is whether it's in our traditional oil and gas space or whether it's in the energy transition, there's two cross-cutting common denominators that go across all of them. One is reducing carbon intensity. So every engagement that we have with our client, and it could be in an existing oil platform somewhere, any capex or opex that's been spent. And there's a lens of reducing the carbon intensity of that and that's common across every client that we have, every part of the world. The other piece that also transitions across is that digitization and how do you put digital and how do you get data in there and how do you optimize the data that you are actually collecting? And that could be as simple as if you're designing a project and what that modeling will look like going forward. But where we see the most benefit right now, there's a piece around process optimization that's always been there, digital twinning, which is good. But really for us, the secret sauce is in understanding the operational data and using that to optimize the designs for the future, that continuous loop and using generative AI now to continue to help expedite those discoveries.

JB: It's one thing to get tons of data, but what if you don't know how to quickly translate it?

KG: Yeah. We would say, and this is maybe a broad brush stroke, but when a lot of the data that we collect, 85% of it is not usable. So it's really honing in on what are the key characteristics, the key parameters and the key things that you need to collect in order to be able to optimize going forward. And that's the real essence of the journey that we're on to optimize that. And that has a huge position to play right now, but we will continue to have an even more important role as we continue to digitalize more.

JB: Pivoting just a little bit, there's a lot of talk at this conference about hydrogen and the potential there, both green and blue and all the other colors. Y'all are involved in basically all of it. Can I get your take on the potential there and the potential to scale?

KG: I think we're in that space of we don't really care which color of the rainbow it is with hydrogen, because we believe that there's a part to play for all of them, whether it's green, whether it's blue, you kind of go through the various different color palettes that's out there. It's interesting, this CERAWeek is probably a little bit different than other years. I think other years it was almost like a binary conversation on the technology. There's a winner, there's a loser, there's a winner, there's a loser. As you went through the various kinds of technologies, not just hydrogen, but also in some of the other spaces, I think now that’s matured a little bit. I think there's an understanding that hydrogen particularly has a large role to play, but it's not binary. Everything is going to have a little role to play. I think the other piece around the hydrogen conversation is probably there are a lot of people talking about hydrogen for a long period of time. The problem that we see is that you can't scale talk. So, we're very much in that space of, okay, let's move, let's get some more action. The greens and blues and the various different color that are out there, they will have a role to play. It probably needs to be accelerated.

JB: Now obviously the IRA and other government actions are important pieces there. Do you see the progress being made? What more is needed really?

KG: Progress has definitely been made from a U.S. context. We look at it from a global perspective and it's clear that the IRA has fast forwarded the U.S. and I think that's really great. I think the devil is in the detail when it comes to IRA. I think all of us have seen policy turning into how do you actually access that, right? And I think the other piece is also how do you get permitting and how do you get licensing and how do you get those various different things up and running at the speed that you need to do it? But I do say the U.S. has leapfrogged itself over most of the other economies of the world, and I think from a Gulf standpoint and what's happening in Texas and in Louisiana is really interesting.

JB: Like I was kind of saying before, Woods essentially evolved in all things energy transition, decarbonization. What are some of the other really critical technologies that you see going forward? As you said, it's a little bit of everything.

KG: We love blue hydrogen because of where we came from and who we are as an organization, I think that's something that's quite complex. The solutions are complex and from a Wood standpoint, that's where we're good at. We excel where it's complex. Direct air capture, direct air capture hubs, we have talked about it for a period of time. That's become a lot more prevalent. A lot of conversations are around which technology will win, what's scalable, what's going to be affordable? But there's definitely going to be also in the back of the IRA as well that's going to play more of a role. And I think a lot of the time our consultants and our subject matter expertise are spending is wading through the various different competing technologies. Because the other thing that I think we all know is you need to have a technology that's scalable, but also is commercially viable without subsidy. I think that's the trap that everybody is trying to avoid at the moment, is that whatever really becomes prevalent from a technology standpoint, whichever vector that is, it has that ability to be commercially viable in the long term without subsidy. And I think that goes back to the you can't scale talk, right? So we need to see it, we need to prove it, we need to demonstrate it. We're engineers, we love to optimize.

JB: Great. Thanks so much for joining us here at CERAWeek. I really appreciate it. To read and watch more. Please visit online at