Thursday, September 22, 2011

Aberdeen Trade Show Highlights Crucial Role of Oil and Gas in World Energy Supply

SPE Offshore Europe brings more than 32,000 attendants from around the globe to North East Scotland for an update on the latest trends in what remains by far the world’s most important source of energy.

The 2011 edition of the biennial conference and exhibition SPE Offshore Europe saw a record 32,025 unique attendants check in at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre during the 6th through 8th September event.

“SPE Offshore Europe was a great platform to discuss major issues, to spend quality time talking about where we are going and what the future will be,” said the event’s chairman, Samir Brikho, who is also the CEO of Amec, one of the world’s leading engineering, project management and consultancy companies.

In a statement from the event’s organizers — SPE (Society of Petroleum Engineers) and Reed Exhibitions — Mr. Brikho added: “Understandably in a complex global industry there are still many uncertainties but the fundamentals of the business are here to stay. Based on what we debated and discussed in the conference sessions, it is very clear that if we want to manage supply and demand, there is no room for complacency. We need to be much more down to earth in our thinking when considering what will be the best solutions and to continue to put safety at the top of our priorities.”

So what was the big news this time around? Apart from the unveiling by UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry of the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group’s (OSPRAG) 40-tonne well capping device on the first day of the event, more than 1,500 exhibitors covered an area that exceeded 25,000 square meters — again breaking previous records.

Whereas, fortunately, the actual need for “a vital piece of equipment with the capability to cap an uncontrolled subsea well” has not materialized in the UK to date, the oil and gas industry is clearly keen to demonstrate that it takes safety and environmental issues very seriously. Indeed, even the hypothetical threat of a disaster akin to that of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico last year continues to cast a long shadow over drilling activities on both sides of the Atlantic.

‘Investing more than ever’: In the conference department, business breakfasts, topical lunches, and seminars drew oil and gas professionals and people from supporting industries to a number of presentations and discussions offered by the likes of Mr. Hendry and Mr. Brikho as well as other leaders, including Oil & Gas UK CEO Malcolm Webb, Schlumberger Chairman Andrew Gould, Shell Projects and Technology Director Matthias Bichsel, Wood Group PSN CEO Bob Keiller, TAQA Brattani CEO Leo Koot, Statoil Executive Vice President Peter Mellbye, BP North Sea Regional President Trevor Garlick, and Ernst & Young Global Oil & Gas Leader Dale Njoka, to name some.

The gist of what was said? Reports of the demise of oil and gas are highly exaggerated although they have been around for a hundred years. The thing is, significant oil and gas discoveries coupled with improved hydrocarbon recovery — all aided by new technologies — should be sending a sobering message to the world. In theory, this could help balance out some of the bias against oil and gas that seems to have influenced public policies in many countries.

The point was made that oil and gas is known as the world’s most technologically advanced industry, and that this industry is expected to retain its strength and vitality in the years and decades ahead.

Likewise, as was duly noted, oil and gas remains by far the most important source of energy and is likely to remain so for a long time, regardless of the drive toward renewable energy sources.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s International Energy Outlook 2011, the world’s energy consumption will continue to predominantly consist of liquids, natural gas, and coal. From 2006 through 2035, depending on the price variable and the state of the world economy, most projections offered in the Energy Outlook predict the total consumption of petroleum and other liquid fuels to increase from about 85 million barrels per day to between 100 and 115 million barrels per day.

Meanwhile, according to Mr. Njoka, global investments in oil and gas over the coming years are expected to total some 33 trillion USD.

To cut it short, the world needs deliverable energy.

For Aberdeen, the offshore capital of Europe, the oil and gas industry remains the lifeblood of the economy throughout the region.

With the North Sea still valued as a viable business for many, BP and Shell have committed to invest 4.8 billion USD in the redevelopment of the Schiehallion and Loyal oil fields west of Shetland.

Referring to BP’s oil and gas operations in the North Sea, Mr. Garlick told Aberdeen’s Business Bulletin: “We are doing more than we have ever done, we are hiring more people than we have ever hired and investing more money than we have ever spent, although we are spending it in a more focused way.”

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