The future faces of oil and gas at the ONS conference

Shaping the future of oil and gas

Many of the world's future energy challenges rest on the shoulders of a younger generation. But who are they and what motivates them? Inside Energy met some of the rising stars at one of the industry's biggest gatherings in Norway, ONS 2018. This is what they said.

By Ryan Harrison on Aug 30, 2018

Therese Nordbø at the ONS conference in Norway

"Oil rigs can act like smart fridges"

Theresa Nordbo is a 29-year-old project manager at WestControl. The Norwegian technology firm gives oil rigs internet capabilities aimed to improve their productivity.

My company is connecting oil rigs to the "internet of things", which adds sensors and the internet to physical objects, to more accurately measure the flow through pipes.

It means oil rigs can act like a smart fridge in your home, ordering bread or milk when you've run out. If an oil rig needs parts or engineers, they are dispatched instantly. The world is getting faster and more demanding, so it needs to step up with these innovations.

From a young age I loved maths, chemistry and physics. These were subjects where you got one answer and you got to challenge yourself.

I got a bachelors degree in petroleum engineering and a masters degree in industrial economics because I wanted to see both sides: economics and engineering.

It's led me to a job where I'm using technology to improve things like production and safety in oil and gas.

The oil and gas industry will be there for as long as I'm in work. But the industry needs to renew. It needs to make processes more accurate, with fewer emissions, faster and to be able to exploit the potential of each machine.

The future may be platforms without people. This means enhancing technology to the point where you could sit on land while robots take measurements on the seabed. The only limit is our imagination.

Marcus Risanger at the ONS conference in Norway

"We are in the business of solving technical problems"

Marcus Risanger is a 28-year-old petroleum engineer at Ridge, a well consultancy firm in Norway that helps oil and gas operators keep their drilling equipment and wells running safely and smoothly.

Oil and gas is Norway's lifeblood. If you live in Palo Alto in California, for instance, you might work with software and information technology. Similarly, growing up in Stavanger, you know something about the oil business. You would talk about the oil price around the dinner table.

Both my parents worked in the industry, my mum as an offshore nurse and my dad as an engineer.

Petroleum products are ubiquitous. They go into all aspects of our lives. We drive on tarmac, wear fleece sweaters and use computer screens and cell phones. You can't just snap your fingers and take that away.

Until the world can be weaned off hydrocarbons - and use more renewables - the combination of people and new technology will be needed to produce oil and gas safely and efficiently.

Take the example of fully autonomous rigs, which have robots drilling on the seabed that are controlled by engineers onshore. They are part of an efficiency step the world will need to take sooner or later.

The skills I am learning in this business are not necessarily oil and gas specific. The industry uses technologies that are transferrable to other sectors, from medicine to tunnel building.

We're doing what every other engineer in the world does, solving technical problems.

Tore Hovland at the ONS conference in Norway

"The industry must innovate or face failure"

Tore Hovland, 22, founded software company NovoTech and works in research and development at Vision IO, a Norwegian technology company supplying specialist cameras for companies to inspect oil and gas wells.

Oil and gas is one of engineering's most demanding sectors.

The company I work for produces cameras for companies to inspect wells. These operate in extreme conditions: high temperatures and high pressures.

The sapphire domes on our digital cameras can withstand 5.7 tonnes of pressure. That's the equivalent of two SUVs. They give operators a fast, visual log of their well.

The biggest challenge my company faces is getting others to adopt this innovation. Some companies still use a technique that involves pushing a big metal block down a well, banging hard and reading the imprint, which provides less visual detail than a camera.

Oil and gas also needs to find new ways of processing massive amounts of data. NovoTech, a company I founded, produces software that can visualise huge 3D models of an oil rig on just a regular tablet, phone or laptop.

In the future, only the companies that seek innovative ways of doing things will succeed. We have seen it in the technology industry with Netflix and Spotify, which have transformed the way we consume music.

The oil industry can learn from that and improve by giving people the chance to innovate without fear of failure.

'The oil industry can learn from companies like Spotify and Netflix by giving people the chance to innovate without fear of failure'

Tore Hovland
Nora Enge Wanvik at the ONS conference in Norway

"Decommissioning is a job for life"

Nora Enge Wanvik, is a 25-year-old drilling and well engineer at global energy firm Equinor. Her role involves extending the lives of oil fields through new technologies.

My team steps in when something goes wrong with the oil flow, for instance fixing equipment that's failed down a hole.

We collect data to help companies find why wells are not performing. We also help to increase production by opening up new parts of the reservoir in a well. In general, we try to maximise the oil from fields we already have.

The oil and gas industry in Norway has seen a lot of development in the last 30 to 40 years, and we now have a huge number of wells. All these need to be responsibly plugged and abandoned.

If you choose the decommissioning side, you will have a job for as long as you can work. It will bring exciting technical and safety challenges.

I see exciting innovations being developed to ensure these wells are decommissioned responsibly. I enjoy that my work is not part of drilling new wells but instead maximising what we can extract from existing wells.

The fact is, humans have energy needs and that demand is increasing. So, unless we cut back living standards then stopping oil production is not really an option.

Emil Yde Aasen at the ONS conference in Norway

"Carbon capture storage is a pillar for the Paris Agreement"

Emil Yde Aasen, is a 27-year-old mechanical engineer at Shell in Stavanger, Norway. He designs facilities that capture and store carbon dioxide deep underground, preventing its release into the atmosphere.

I grew up on a farm in Lillehammer in southern Norway. My father was a farmer and my mother a midwife. I wasn't exposed to the oil and gas industry in the way others were, but soon saw its size when I got an internship in Stavanger, the country’s oil capital.

Today, the world still largely depends on fossil fuels. There's a gap between what the industry is doing to decarbonise and what the public believes is happening. But I prefer to be on the inside working to accelerate the transition to a lower-carbon energy system, than on the outside criticising the slow speed of change.

I'm still excited by the positive things the industry does. One of my main jobs is to capture carbon from industrial sources like cement production and waste incineration, then safely inject it into the ground.

I design the facilities that will receive the carbon. This means crunching numbers on the types of pumps and pressures needed to do this safely. I am also working to develop the business model for this type of carbon capture and storage.

Carbon capture storage (CCS) is one of the pillars for the world to succeed in decarbonising and reaching the Paris Agreement goal. Without CCS, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the cost of meeting these targets would double.

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