As oil prices begin to rise and exploration of the North Sea yields promising results, investment is returning to the area, in particular, with two large projects from energy big hitters BP and Centrica. These firms are injecting new life into this area by drilling new wells in mature fields and exploring new fields. Although there are environmental concerns about greatly increasing production from this area, this increased investment is predicted to be just the start in a return to interest in the North Sea.
Aviation produces 2% of the world’s human-induced carbon dioxide emissions and the demand for air travel is predicted to double over the next 20 years. As such, the industry is desperately looking for new ways to reduce their emissions, along with the energy generating industry itself, and this has spurred an interest in biomass-derived jet fuels. Although many different plant materials can be used to produce this fuel, researchers at the University of Illinois are working on engineering sugarcane to make it a high yielding, resilient crop ideal for producing far more energy than it takes to make.
Natural gas usage around the world is still on the rise for a number of reasons but a main one being it is better for the environment than other fossil fuels. Countries such as China are increasingly using it to power long distance trucking and countries like Ireland are considering using it to improve their energy security. However, as the main component of natural gas is methane, a major greenhouse gas, the accidental but inevitable emissions of this gas during the production, processing and distribution of natural gas constitute a significant threat to the environment. That is why energy companies BP, Eni, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Shell, Statoil, Total and Wintershall are committing to reducing emission in every part of their operations.
The biggest liquid natural gas (LNG) transporting, storage and regasification vessel ever is due to begin operation in November from its location in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Turkey. As long as the Eiffel Tower is tall, this ship can hold 263,000 cubic meters of LNG and was recently named the MOL FSRU Challenger in a ceremony in South Korea. It was built by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd as the first floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) the company has independently built, owned and operated. It is designed to increase Turkey’s regasification capacity to improve their energy security following the installation of their first FSRU called Neptune.
With such ambitious carbon reduction targets, the UK is coming under increasing pressure to find new and innovative ways to decarbonise the way we generate heat, store energy and transport people and goods. To this end, Newcastle University, Northern Gas Networks (NGN) and Northern Powergrid have launched InTEGReL – Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory – to bring together the best minds to work collaboratively to develop new energy generating technology and create new types of batteries, find better ways to use hydrogen and widen the use of CNG (compressed natural gas) in transport.
Recent breakthroughs in the world of biofuel could negate many of the drawbacks of using it. As a far more sustainable and environmentally friendly fuel, it seems strange that biofuel is not more popular but the way biofuels are currently produced makes them a less viable option. Despite this, companies including aviation companies are looking into ways to use biofuels to make their operations more environmentally friendly. This comes amid forecasts by the International Energy Agency that the supply of fossil fuels may struggle to meet demand in coming years. Fortunately, scientists from Queen’s University in Belfast and ExxonMobil may have found solutions to the current problems.
Despite recent increases in investment and the very gradual return of optimism in the industry, oil and gas prices continue to remain low and, thus, companies are still feeling the pinch. Gone are the days when an oil company could increase their profits by simply producing more oil. Now the focus must be on slicker and more efficient operations to drive down costs and new technology is playing a vital role in achieving this. Companies are offering innovative technological solutions in automation, exploration to discover new fields like the ones recently found off the coast of Scotland, and collecting and processing data.
When Exiflow Measurement originally designed the SFC3000 flow measurement computer, we knew it would need to be flexible and adaptable enough to accommodate the changing needs of the worldwide liquid hydro-carbon and gas measurement industry without the need for the hardware to be further updated to accommodate these requirements.
After four years of decline, European gas demand is estimated to increase by 7% in 2015 with respect to last year according to the latest forecast from Eurogas, the gas association representing the European gas wholesale, retail and distribution sectors. The first half of 2015 saw a significant increase of approximately 9% in demand, compared with the same period in 2014. This estimate comes from their annual survey, covering approximately 87% of the EU gas market.
When it comes to the current outlook for the chemicals industry it is definitely a tale of two continents. While the prospects for the chemicals industry look healthy in the USA, at least in the medium term, it is a much more uncertain outlook on the other side of the Atlantic.