The future of the hydrocarbon industry hinges on technological advancements, and according to the futurist and environmental expert Michio Kaku, that even includes artificial intelligence and wearable tech.
During the keynote speech on the opening of the 17th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (Adipec) yesterday, Mr Kaku described the "future of oil and gas".
The physicist said that the oil and gas sector would be dominated by a “seamless transfer of information”, allowing workers in the field to have immediate access to expert knowledge via smart eyewear like Google Glass.
“We are witnessing a new generation of oilfields,” Mr Kaku said. “If something breaks down in the oilfield, your contact lenses will identify it and order the new part by simply blinking.”
“The energy field also depends on expert insights, and very soon we will have intelligent wallpaper, which will be inscribed with artificial intelligence from the world’s leading experts,” Dr Kaku said.
Dubbing this “augmented reality”, the physicist said this would revolutionise the way hydrocarbons were extracted.
Advanced technology, especially enhanced oil recovery (EOR), a blanket term covering a wide range of proprietary techniques to get the most out of oil reservoirs, has been at the forefront of presentations by the big international oil companies looking to win business in Abu Dhabi.
Methods range from the use of carbon dioxide injection to retrieve more oil to applications for digital oilfields.
State-owned firms including Adnoc are looking to achieve recovery rates as high as 70 per cent to maximise returns on maturing fields.
The global EOR market was valued at US$38.1 billion in 2012, and is expected to reach $516.7bn by 2023.
Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and chief executive for energy at Mubadala, said EOR was necessary for meeting the growing demands of an increasing population. “We must innovate to maximise on every body of oil and extend the life of our precious resources,” he said.
Noomane Keskes, Total’s scientific and technology adviser, said that a great deal of research was required to meet ambitious recovery rate targets.
In Abu Dhabi, Total is working with Adnoc, the Masdar Institute and the Petroleum Institute on a joint research project to explore the seismic and 4D domain. "Studying these [production] figures on a seismic scale and mapping the changes on the fields will be one of the keys to solve part of this 70 per cent recovery challenge," Mr Keskes added. "What we are producing now is the easy oil. The real complex oil of tomorrow, this is what we have to create and innovate in terms of technology."
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