Joonsang Park and Bahman Bohloli from NGI – Norwegian Geotechnical Institute atten (European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers) Annual Conference and Exhibition in person for the first time since 2020. The conference took place from 18 to 21 October 2021.
Joonsang presented a paper based on a CO2 storage monitoring project (EM4CO2, CLIMIT KPN) and Bahman chaired two sessions on “Characterization and monitoring of subsurface CO2 storage”. Between 100 to 120 persons attended each session.
Theme of the conference was “Energy Challenge Today and Tomorrow” and covered all aspects of geoscience and engineering including oil/gas, energy storge (geothermal, hydrogen), mineral, carbon storage, geohazards, etc.
Highlights from the conference
- Energy transition is here and now. There is push from the public and big investors for sustainable and green energies.
- Although oil/gas will be with us for some decades to come (peak production about 2030), companies are working hard for decarbonizing oil/gas as much as possible, investing heavily in green energies: wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.
- Universities have challenges to attract students to geoscience/geoengineering programs thus are revising their curricula reducing focus on oil/gas and highlighting effort on CCS, geothermal, subsurface characterization, etc.
- Service companies are aligning their services towards green energies, yet including mineral exploration.
- There are big changes ahead. Are we (NGI) ready for that?
Notes from the conference
Around 3000 participants, where 1400 in-person and 1600 online. A good exhibition (a bit smaller than the other years, though) was also organised in the conference arena.
There were 17 parallel sessions; in-person and pre-recorded talks were presented.
There was a panel discussion every day where representatives from major international energy companies (ExxonMobil, Shell, Equinor, TotalEnergies, BP, and more), OPEC, service companies, and academia attended and discussed the energy challenges. Conclusions from all panels forums was something that is of high interest for NGI.
Panel discussion 1: How the oil industry is addressing the energy mix to meet the goals of the transition era
- Oil/gas peak will be about 2030 and then declining (probably sharply-according to some scenarios). Major energy companies are planning and adopting their strategies for this transition.
- However, Oil and gas will be with us to about 2050 and beyond. Gas industry may live longer, as gas may be considered as an energy source for transition era due to its lower greenhouse gas emissions. Gas will especially be important for the developing countries.
- Companies feel there is a push towards green energies from the society, regulators
- ExxonMobile stated that they have invested heavily in low carbon solutions in the past years and they are excited about how rapid the transition from fossil fuels to green energies will happen.
- The Hydrogen+CCS, Wind energy, Solar, biofuels and geothermal are considered sources to replace fossil fuels.
- In order to achieve ambitious climate goals set by EU and other countries (for example for 2030), there is a need for shorter-term goals. What we should achieve in 2, 4, 8 years from now? These short-term goals will really show if we are on right path and if not, may quickly take mitigation actions.
Panel discussion 2: Role of geoscience and engineering in meeting decarbonization goals
Initiatives to address energy transition: geothermal, offshore wind and new value chain within CCS and hydrogen. Critical minerals will be needed more in future. Equinor representative Elisabeth Birkeland: optimizing oil/gas with low carbon footprint, total value chain for CCS and hydrogen production; 3-5 hydrogen clusters by 2035. Equinor’s ambition is to store underground 15-30 million tons of CO2 per year in 2030. All these are in need for skilled geoscientists and geoengineers.
Mining of metals will be needed much more than it is today as energy transition solutions rely on electric Vehicles, wind farms, etc. that require huge amounts of special minerals and metals.
Panel discussion 3: Great Career Challenge – the changing education and opportunities for tomorrow’s energy professionals
All expect that oil/gas will decline in future and thus its job opportunities. However, the expertise from oil/gas will be needed for energy transition era. Here again was lots of mentioning of carbon capture and storage, hydrogen storage, geothermal, and wind energy that all need geoscience and geoengineering expertise. May lots of digitalization be involved and these are being included in curricula at universities more than before. Universities are revisiting their educational programs and focus more on sustainability in energy supply and environmentally friendly topics to attract students.