SPE Online Education
One idea: Our industry is in the new era of greater competition and must become more efficient to continue to prosper. Only about 15 years ago "peak oil" theories were quite popular and accepted by the general public. Another school of thought, based on the concept of resource triangle, stated that as technology develops and as prices increase, vast amounts of hydrocarbon resources will become commercial. Oil and gas prices did increase and this led to the unconventional oil and gas revolution. Recent analysis of resource potential based on technical data collected for North American basins (S.A.Holditch et al) showed that we may think of hydrocarbon resources as being essentially infinite for practical purposes.
However the cost of the resource development, as expressed by the production activation index (the CapEx required to create production stream of 1 stb/day) increased over the decade from about 1000-10,000 USD/bopd range for conventional oil, up to 15,000 USD /bopd, and more in some cases. Maintaining production levels with unconventional resources requires continuous drilling. The rapid rate of decline of unconventional wells translates to roughly a three-fold increase in the cost of generating a unit of energy compared to conventional wells. At this order of magnitude of energy cost, other sources of energy and combinations of technologies become competitive with conventional fossil fuel based energy and transportation.
3/4 of all the oil that we produce is used for 3 purposes: ground transportation, heating and electricity generation, and jet fuel. In this lecture we will discuss competitive technologies, their technical limitations, their progress in application and market penetration trends. These competitive technologies are solar power, electric automobiles, and magnetic levitation trains. The high energy density of gasoline made conventional internal combustion engine cars prevalent at the turn of the 20th century. But today, the higher energy efficiency of electric cars and improvements in battery technology are making electric vehicles competitive. We review how the future may look like and how our industry may adapt and change. As the transition starts there will probably be long term demand destruction trend in OECD countries.
It is likely that the industry will experience significant downward oil price pressure as alternative technologies become more competitive. We need to train young engineers in energy engineering rather than just petroleum engineering.
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