After a prolonged period of oversupply and low prices, Canadian oil and gas producers are turning to technology to reduce production costs by 10% to 20%, according to PwC Canada’s new report Energy Visions: Decade of disruption, launched today in Calgary at the Energy Visions Business Forum. Given the increasingly uncertain global context, focusing on technology puts oil and gas companies in a better position to manage costs and attract investments, address environmental issues, and shape the future of the industry.
“In Canada’s energy industry, innovation and improved recoveries go hand in hand. Innovation helps to reduce operating costs and environmental impact. As a result, technology enhancements strengthen Canada’s position in the global energy market,” said Reynold Tetzlaff, National Energy Leader and Calgary Managing Partner, PwC Canada.
Increased automation and advanced analytics allow oil and gas companies to analyze large amounts of data, making it easier for them to monitor assets and manage production. The oil and gas sector are also investing in the use of sensors, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), 3D pad planning, improved seismic mapping, enhanced reservoir characterization, and predictive analytics and nanotechnology in drilling fluids.
In other findings, the polarizing views on climate change in North America, more Canadian oil and gas companies are focusing on lower-carbon future. The report states that Canada is rapidly emerging as a world leader in environmental mitigation technologies for unconventional resource extraction practices. Collaboration with universities, service companies, entrepreneurs and the government are improving Canada’s oil and gas sector’s green profile. Key developments driving environmental performance include:
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Direct contact steam generation (DCSG) technology: this project may eliminate GHG emissions and the need for water treatment in steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) plants.
CO2 conversion: Key developments have been made in the use of algae at oil sands projects to convert CO2 and reduce emissions.
Gas turbine once-through steam generators (GT-OTSGs) technique: This technique uses integrated natural-gas power turbines and large boilers to produce steam and electricity at the same time. The electricity is used to power facilities while steam is used to produce bitumen.
Marine spills prevention technology: To drive clean technology solutions, a cleantech fund has created one of the smallest and lightest marine oil spill containment systems in the world.
“The faster new technologies develop to challenge fossil fuels, the faster the oil and gas sector will adapt. The industry relies on technology to improve efficiencies and its carbon footprint. As a result, technology is seen as potentially disruptive in the long term and constructive in the short term,” adds Tetzlaff.
Key factors influencing supply and demand, such as transportation, technological disruption and other emerging energy forms, are raising questions about the future of the energy mix. These factors are also altering capital allocation and industry operations in addition to national policies and broader geopolitics.
Technology, such as data analytics, is at the centre of these conversations to shape the future, create opportunities, and promote faster and more agile decision-making. Increased automation and advanced analytics allow oil and gas companies to analyze large amounts of data, making it easier for them to monitor assets, make quicker decisions and manage production. Automation also has the potential to transform the industry’s workforce. Within the next decade, oil and gas companies could employ more data scientists than geologists.
“Our oil and gas industry has shown it can adapt to changing market conditions, survive and compete. And it will continue to do so as it uses innovation to overcome challenges and integrates new technologies into our future energy mix,” adds Tetzlaff