6 Ways the Oil and Gas Industry Can Improve Their Sustainability

published Jun 11, 2020
2 min read

Oil Industry

Over the last couple of years, humanity has made big steps towards understanding and acting upon contemporary environmental issues. This changing tide can be felt across all industries, including the ones that have been deemed as inherently unsustainable.

That brings us to the oil and gas industry that finds itself at a big crossroads at this point in history. On the one hand, the industry leaders do have the will to paint the oil green. On the other, the foundations are as unfavourable as they get.

Let us then take a look at a couple of innovative ways the oil and gas industry can improve its sustainability and join this global green movement.

Improving data harvesting and analytics

We are living in an age where artificial intelligence is slowly taking over the duties of data harvesting and analytics. In this case, the change is for the better. For instance, recent research says that most of the off-shore platforms are running at only 60-70% of their optimal efficiency.

This fact alone causes the O&G industry a staggering $200 billion gap. Utilising data gathered by AI can do a lot to streamline the complexities of O&G operations, cutting the resulting waste and environmental impact to the bare minimum in the process.

Moving on to digital oilfields

But why stop at simple analytics? The digitalisation of the traditionally clunky oil and gas is picking up the pace and we are coming close to the point where we will have solid foundations for making the oilfields entirely digital.

Of course, human ingenuity and creative thinking will still be behind all important decisions. But these decisions will be made behind the safe separating wall of cloud computing. All mundane tasks associated with oil extraction will be run by machines and backed up by real-time data.

Updating oilfield equipment

The third piece of this efficiency puzzle definitely lies in the equipment. Even with all the AI computing power on its side, the O&G industry can’t hope to achieve the necessary level of efficiency without the massive overhaul of the equipment that is currently used.

Fortunately, industry-leading oilfield equipment that’s been rolled out in the last couple of years has showcased just what the doctor prescribed – increase in efficiency, lower downtime, and improved output. Now, it’s only a matter of wide-scale implementation.

A stronger focus on renewable energy

Of course, increasing operational efficiency is not the only way the oil and gas industry can become more environmentally-friendly. The other pillar of the global sustainability movement lies in the shift toward renewable energy.

And, although the O&G industry is based entirely around fossil fuels, there is no reason why its gears can’t be run by renewable resources. The writing is on the wall – back in 2018. British oil giant BP decided to invest $0.5 of its capital investment fund to green energy. It is up to the rest of the pack to follow its trail.

Investing more resources into oil recycling

Although oil recycling is not a particularly new idea, it is hard to escape the impression that this valuable subsection of the O&G industry is still very far from living up to its true potential.

This observation is even more evident when we take into account that the process of oil recycling is often more inexpensive and far more commercially viable than the actual oil disposal. Allocating resources into the expansion of waste-oil micro-refineries would definitely help the O&G industry to take a big step in the environmental direction while still producing revenue.

Playing up the social responsibility game

Finally, we have to underline that the concept of green economy is far broader than the narrow notion of eco-friendly industrial operations. The strong focus of this idea lies in the empowerment of the workforce, the creation of opportunities for decent livelihoods, fair labour compensation, and integrated governance.

This is the area where the oil and gas industry can make the strongest improvement. Improving the work conditions on oilfields, embracing higher social responsibility, and allowing the public eye to better access to the gears of the industry would paint the entire picture much greener.

We hope these six points gave you some general idea of the strategies the oil and gas industry can use to set itself on a more healthy and sustainable foundation. Sure, fossil fuels will remain something we need to get rid of. But every step in the right direction is a good one. And the O&G industry leaders have shown a fair share of goodwill so far. Who knows, maybe in ten years from now, we will have a completely different conversation from this one?