The changing role of Petroleum Geoscientists and Engineers in the Energy Transition

Jun 17, 2019 | Lecture Archive

2019 Summer BBQ Subsurface in Transition

Eilard Hoogerduijn Strating (New Energy Manager – NAM)

In recent years, there is a growing number of Petroleum Geoscientists and Engineers that wonder if the advent of the Energy Transition implies that their competencies and expertise become obsolete and that the prospects for a career in the energy industry are dwindling. In this presentation we will explore this perception.

In the current fossil energy world, Petroleum Geoscientists and Engineers are developing projects related to either the production of energy (gas, condensate, oil), storage/buffering of energy (e.g. Underground Gas Storages) and storage of by-products associated with gas and oil production (e.g. produced water re-injection).

Whilst much is uncertain about the energy supply and demand picture going forward, it is expected that the above three basic characteristics and functional interest areas will continue to be relevant also in a renewable/low CO2 footprint energy system. They will however change in scope and focus:

Energy Production: whilst also in the Netherlands in 2050 fossil fuels will continue to make up part of the energy mix, the focus of subsurface energy production will likely have shifted to (low enthalpy) geothermal energy as a key source for district heating and low temperature industry.

Energy Storage/Buffering: It is expected that the future energy systems, which will continue to show seasonal demand variation, but will also experience significant short- and longterm supply variation (e.g. solar, wind, hydro), will continue to require energy storage to maintain security of supply. High-capacity/longer-term (e.g. seasonal) storage can, with current technologies, only realistically be resolved by means of underground storage. In a renewable energy world this may take the form of e.g. Compressed Air Storage (Salt Caverns), Hydrogen Storage (Salt Caverns, depleted gas fields), and Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage.

CO2 Storage: There are many different forecasts of the future energy landscape, but the majority are consistent in featuring CO2 capture, use, and storage (CCUS) as a necessity to achieve the 2050 goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. This is also the case in the Netherlands, where the focus is on CO2 storage in depleted offshore gasfields. So, whilst the Energy Transition will certainly affect the energy business and the nature of the projects, successful delivering of the above will continue to require the skills, expertise and innovative drive of Petroleum Geoscientists and Engineers.


The presentation is available on request.

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