Offshore Europe 2009 opens in Aberdeen (OE 2009)

Energy at the Crossroads – Making Choices is the theme of this year’s Offshore Europe.

Gene Kliewer
Technology Editor, Subsea & Seismic

ABERDEEN, UK -- Energy at the Crossroads – Making Choices is the theme of this year’s Offshore Europe. That theme was introduced by Thomas Anderson, chairman of the executive committee for SPE Offshore Europe 2009 and CEO of Maersk Oil.

That theme has four elements, Anderson told the attendees. The first element is energy and the environment, the second is the modern operating model for oil and gas companies, the third is the place of breakthrough technology, and the fourth element consists of people and skills.

Leading off the plenary session panel discussion, Connie Hedegaard, Danish minister of Climate and Energy, quoted Bob Dylan lyrics that “The times they are a-changing.” Politics are changing, also, Hedegaard said. Energy is “fashionable” as people realize its importance, and the twin challenges of climate change and energy security will dominate for years to come. She said that energy companies could treat R&D in either of two ways. One way is to Reject science and Delay action. The other is to Recognize the new reality and Deal with it.

The UK Minister of Energy and Sustained Development Lord Hunt followed Hedegaard to say that a transition to a low-carbon economy is a necessity, and that the oil and gas business must coexist with it since hydrocarbons would be the mainstay energy source for the transition to the new economy. He also said that the UK plans a new offshore licensing round in early 2010, and that enhanced recovery operations in the UK North Sea would lead the activity recovery.

Next at the podium was John Manzoni, president and CEO of Talisman Energy. He said it is essential to get the financial and energy businesses in order, and also that government has to shape the market using a global approach. Looking at the political scene, Manzoni said that business must respond to both government and constituents regarding the question of carbon management whether or not operators agree with the science behind those opinions. He cautioned that the carbon price, if applied, would affect the life of older fields to possibly cause fields to be shut-in with recoverable, but no longer economical oil in place. There is no shortage of ingenuity to move industry forward into the future if the correct choices are made at the current crossroads.

Bringing the plenary presentations to a conclusion was Andrew Gould, chairman and CEO of Schlumberger. He said that he is not sure that the oil and gas industries have the correct skill sets to pursue renewable energy sources, although the industry would have some contributions to make. Looking at the climate issues, Gould said it is not just a question of technology, but also one of infrastructure. Also, that carbon capture was only part of the issue with natural gas production because H2S issues are as important as the quality of produced hydrocarbons goes down over time. These changes in hydrocarbon types and sources also require new technologies while proving a challenge to operator economic models.


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