Embracing the energy transition

THIS year’s Offshore Europe will mark the official opening of P&J Live, a new, state-of-the-art events venue that everyone across the wider Grampian region can take great pride in. In many respects, the new home also reflects the sense of renewal within the oil and gas industry as it embraces the changes that are coming as part of the energy transition and the growing focus on tackling climate change.

For the first time since the industrial revolution, Britain is obtaining more power from zero-carbon sources than fossil fuels. However with demand predicted to increase at a faster rate than the supply of clean energy will come online, as well as on-going challenges around the storage of renewable sources, research confirms that oil and gas will continue to remain a key part of the UK’s energy supply mix for the foreseeable future.

This is welcome news for a sector that has contributed so much to the UK economy over the last 40 years but it’s also clear that the parameters in which the sector operates have changed. The theme of this year’s conference, ‘Our licence to operate: Breaking through to excellence’, points towards the potential threat the sector could face unless it takes concerted steps to reduce the carbon impact of upstream and downstream activities.

As both a board member of Oil & Gas UK and a chief executive officer of Wood’s Asset Solutions business, I’m proud to see the industry is picking up this very challenge. It is certainly a focus for us at Wood. On a regular basis, I speak with customers who are asking for advice on how to reduce emissions from their offshore operations, how to power their assets using renewable sources, and how to leverage the latest technology to address the issues of fugitive gases and flaring.

Put simply, these are conversations that only two years ago were just not happening but are now increasingly frequent. At Wood, we’ve already taken major steps to build a broader range of capability across the energy and industrial sectors, as well as the built environment, and we continue to invest in technology-led solutions to help operators reduce the carbon intensity of their activities on both upstream and downstream assets.

Setting an ambitious target to try and deliver a ‘net zero basin’ is not just the right thing to do, but it will also enable the industry to showcase its commitment to building a lower-carbon future and highlight why it should be viewed as part of the solution to climate change.

There’s no doubt that achieving a ‘net zero basin’ will require a huge step change. However, the sector can and should take confidence from the past – this industry has a distinguished track record of developing technically challenging solutions in areas that many would not have dared thought possible. This pioneering spirit and doggedness will continue to serve the industry well in the future and ensure it remains a rewarding place to build a career, with a workforce that’s known for its entrepreneurial approach and vision.