According to Robert Ryan, vice president of global exploration at Chevron, the world has plenty of energy resources. The challenge will be to figure out how to capitalize on these assets so that they deliver the best results for consumers. Ryan made his comments to more than 700 academicians, industry representatives, and researchers at the plenary session at the 28th international conference on Ocean, Offshore, and Arctic Engineering in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 1, 2009. “The world is awash in resources,” he said. Ryan presented numbers – now quite familiar to most of the industry – that show a significant gap between supply and demand for oil and gas by 2030 and talked about the many challenges that stand in the way of bringing those resources to market. These challenges include: • Limited access to resources; • Remote locations; • Harsh environments; • Ultra-deep water; • Deeper wells; • Unconventional reservoirs; • Technical challenges; • Cost management (an issue regardless of the world economy); and • New energy sources. John Murray, director of technology development at FloaTEC, followed Ryan with his own take on the industry’s challenges, focusing primarily on the technology issues in the offshore oil and gas sector, particularly in deep water. Murray pointed out that most of the significant additions to global production will come from deepwater fields where high-pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) challenges are an issue. “If the US wants to maintain its contribution to domestic production from the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), the industry is going to have to develop new technologies, particularly for HP/HT conditions,” Murray said. “Deepwater floating production systems will also have to undergo modifications if they are going to be deployable, not only in deepwater applications in the GoM, but in more challenging environments like the arctic.” In Murray’s opinion, some of the recent floating systems developed for open water conditions can be adapted for application in arctic regions, where up to one-third of the world’s remaining oil and gas resources remain, most of them in a marine environment. The primary message from both speakers was one we have been hearing for some time: If the oil and gas industry is going to be able to exploit challenging areas, more creativity, more innovation, and more integration are needed. According to Ryan, more efforts have to go toward developing renewable resources as well. “All energy resources need to contribute, or we’re in a bit of a bind as an industry moving forward,” he said. Representative Cynthia Thielen, Assistant Republican Leader in the Hawaii House of Representatives, heartily agreed, devoting her segment of the plenary session to presenting the need for more research in wave energy. “Wave energy has to be part of the renewable portfolio,” she said. According to Thielen, “Hawaii’s wave climate is the second best in the world,” and recently-awarded federal grants will be invested to define and develop the potential for this resource. Her goal is for Hawaii to become what she called, “a renewable energy laboratory for the nation.” Though Thielen’s goals are a bit off the beaten path, they are based on a very real need. Hawaii is extremely dependent on imported energy, drawing 92% of what it uses from abroad. According to Thielen, Hawaiians pay the highest utility rates in the nation and are totally vulnerable to supply disruptions. The state’s clean energy goal is to achieve 70% of the energy used on the islands from renewable sources by 2030 and to cut usage by 30% by improving efficiency.
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