Volume 22 Number 9


Azure 'transforms' Chevron

'Primary' cloud partnership to 'more efficiently do' oil exploration and sensor data management. Azure HPC infrastructure informed by Chevron feedback with a little help from Cray.

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Unily at Shell

BrightStarr's portal technology feeds targeted corporate information and HR functionality to 135,000 users in 70 countries.

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COP23 BECCS, FECCS and the future of fossil fuel

COP 21's best shot was BECCS, biomass energy carbon capture and storage. What might save the fossil fuel industry, or at least, prolong its life is FECCS, fossil energy CCS. A new report from the Global CCS Institute reports on the state-of-the art. Neil McNaughton reads between the lines.

After COP21* a couple of years back, it’s surprising that not so much is heard from the current COP 23. Beyond the fanfare of the 2015 edition, what actually is the game plan for the world, assuming that the consensus of the scientific community is right and that president Trump is wrong?

COP21 produced an impressive statement of intent regarding the need to keep temperatures below 2°C above the pre-industrial baseline but how this was to be achieved was somewhat obscure. As we reported, the preferred route to saving the world is ‘Beccs,’ biomass energy carbon capture and storage. Beccs is politically correct because it does not involve fossil fuels and biomass is ‘green’ isn’t it?

Disposing of CO2 from biomass is a dual use technology and one that, notionally, could, if not save fossil fuels, at least extend their life span. Enter Feccs, a.k.a. fossil energy CCS.

We have reported from various CCS-oriented gatherings in the past and I have been rather dismissive of the technology’s chance of ever seeing widespread take-up. The recent publication of a report by the Global CCS Institute (GCI) titled ‘The role of CCS in meeting climate policy targets’ provides a comprehensive summary of current efforts to capture and store CO2 from electricity generation and other industrial sources.

Fossil fuels currently meet more than 80% of global primary energy demand, and CO2 from fossil fuel combustion accounts for over 90% of energy-related emissions. So there is a good case to be made for CCS if their use is to continue. But how good a case is not clear, either from the executive summary nor from the conclusions of the report. There is too much politics involved to make a straightforward case for investment in CCS.

In Europe, CCS is perceived by the greens as a get-out clause for the fossil fuel industry and is to be resisted. In the USA, CCS trials are acceptable especially when piggy-backed onto enhanced oil recovery (EOR) projects.

The political brakes in Europe and the commercial accelerators in the US have led to the interesting situation where the denialist US is sequestering far more CO2 than the handwringing nations of the EU. In Germany, which pulled back from Nuclear following Fukushima, the return of lignite mining opened a great opportunity for CCS. But the fact that lignite mines are located in different localities than potential sequestration sites has led to large-scale nimbyism stemming from a ‘Länder clause’ in the German CCS bill that gives regional government the ability to authorize or prohibit CO2 storage on their territory. Worse, CCS and nuclear now seem to be equivalent in the public eye and are likely vote losers.

The Netherlands CCS flagship, the Rotterdam Opslag en Afvang Demonstratie (Road) project has stalled because of a funding shortfall, even though it includes a potentially commercial component (the CO2 is to be sold to greenhouses).

Meanwhile, the UK has fallen from its early poster child status when it was providing ‘the strongest policy leadership in encouraging CCS’ and when its CCS policy framework was considered a ‘good practice example.’ In 2015 the UK unexpectedly withdrew its financial support for CCS. Norway is doing better and is planning a ‘full scale industrial’ CCS project for 2022.

The US government has supported CCS since 1997 with the aim of ‘safeguarding fossil fuel use, developing global technology leadership and mitigating climate change.’ Between 2008 and 2014, Congress appropriated $6.4 billion for CCS projects. The Kemper County energy facility in Mississippi will be the largest CCS power project in the world, capturing 3 Mtpa. Here CO2 is used for EOR and represents 65% of the 582 MW electricity generation plant’s capacity although the project has seen delays and rising costs.

Contrary to what one might imagine, in the US, excess CO2 is defined as a substance that damages its citizens’ health and can be regulated by the EPA, whereas Europe ‘scrupulously avoids’ defining CO2 as a pollutant to avoid it being subject to EU directives on waste disposal!

The GCI report puts the overall cost hike for electricity with CCS at ‘between 26% and 114%’ over plants without such technology. On the other hand, ‘the non-availability of CCS appears to make climate mitigation scenarios at best much higher cost, and at worst infeasible.’ A bit of sophistry that I take as meaning that alternative green energies will not scale enough to mitigate fossil fuel use.

So where are we today with CCS? It’s hard to tell from the study just how much CO2 is being sequestered, but totting up the notional values of the demonstrators around the world I estimate that, to an order of magnitude, the world could be sequestering around 10 Mtpa if they were all up and running.

How much is that compared with worldwide CO2 emissions? The CO2.earth website gives a spuriously accurate 35.9 Gtpa of CO2 from fossil fuels. Given that one third of emissions come from transportation and cannot be considered ‘sequestrable’ (despite my editorial), this leaves a potential target of say 20 Gtpa, 20,000 times all current capacity.

How much would that cost? Say current capacity has cost $10 billion, this comes to around $200 trillion, three times world GDP. And this for the pleasure of paying at least 25% more for your electricity. How much would that add to the bill? Fossil electricity consumption is 15 TWh/year at roughly $100/MWh. 25% of this would be another $0.4 trillion. The CCS showstopper is infrastructure cost. The extra cost of electricity is just the coup de grace!

@neilmcn


Book review Data analysis for scientists and engineers

Edward Robinson's text book targets principally the mathematical. But there is enough narrative to intrigue the philosophically-inclined, with an intricate discussion on frequentist vs. Bayesian reasoning. But the trendy field of 'data science' is conspicuously absent.

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Interview - Indy Chakrabarti, Paradigm

SVP strategy talks to Oil IT about 'Paradigm/k,' the company's new flow modeler. Current focus is the 'hard' problem of shale where k's physics-based modeling trumps a data-driven approach.

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Cognitive Geology raises £2 million for Hutton

Maven Capital Partners and Enso Ventures back Scottish geo-software boutique.

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SEG technical standards committee

SEG-Y R2 take-up in Norway and Saudi Aramco. Sample implementations under development. Energistics contemplates shift from XML to JSON. Encapsulation/encryption back on the agenda.

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Letters to the editor

Pete Stark on late career renaissance. Corrections from Emerson and Paradigm.

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Software, hardware short takes ...

GE Digital OPM/ServiceMax/Predix Studio/Edge. Hashmap's Witsml Java SDK. C&C Reservoirs DAKS IQ. Entero One 2017. Librestream Onsight 5000HD. OARS360. PetroVR 2018. Ikon Science RokDoc. Emerson/Roxar Tempest/MORE/Enable and 'big loop' workflows.

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ISO 8000 part 115 data quality implications for oil and gas

Peter Eales (MRO Insyte) provides an update on the ISO 8000 suite of data quality standards. Currently awareness is 'appallingly low.' Saudi Arabia to mandate use in Vision2030 program.

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Society of Exploration Geophysicists 2017, Houston

A century after the first seismic patent, the industry is a little shaky as 'technology delivers more barrels than the world is ready to consume.' We report on Shell's production-induced sea floor monitoring. PGS, 'oil and gas falling behind in HPC.' UC San Diego, reviving a 'greatly diminished' CSEM industry. OpenGeoSolutions 'beware the AI hype!' BP 'is deepwater dead?' Halliburton fixing 'unrealistic' DAS expectations. PCA 'Bayesian statistics fundament of all risking.'

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Folks, facts, orgs ...

Anadarko, Aqualis, Aquilon, Beyond Limits, GE, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, DNV GL, Energistics, ExxonMobil, Flotek, Fugro, Geospatial, Hexagon, Meridian, Michael Baker, Norwegian Data Society, Petrofac, Dresser-Rand, Simmons Edeco, Stratas, Wellsite, Detechtion. Situations vacant.

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Done deals

AIP, Brock Group, CGI, Affecto, DNV GL, ComputIT, Pacific Drilling, Nabors, Robotic Drilling Systems, Geospatial, Drillinginfo, DataGenic, EMAS Offshore, Emerson, GeoFields, Intel Capital, SAEV, FogHorn, Hexagon, Luciad, Pelican, Gordon, Sword IT Solutions, Venture.

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Going, going... green

Shell, Total join Statoil in Gassnova CCS. IBM's methane detector on-a-chip. Shell blog on COP23. DOE/NETL $4 million for CCS geoscience. Port Arthur milestone. CCG validates VCQ Parachem testbed. Seeq AI for JJ Pickle Separations research. RFF's 'E3' carbon tax calculator.

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Sharp Reflections' big seismic data analysis in the cloud

Pre-Stack Pro 'bridge' between seismic processing and interpretation now available on Amazon EC2.

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Accenture/Microsoft annual upstream survey of 'digital'

Upstream oil and gas 'trends' report underwhelms.

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Sales, partnerships, deployments ...

4DMapper/Blue Marble, Atlas Oil/Preventative Maintenance Technology, CH2M, Bahri Data/DNV GL, GE/Apple, Honeywell/Hyperion Group, Key Energy Services/Mix Telematics, DNOW/Badger Meter, XACT Downhole/Tendeka/Enventure Global, EPI Group/ONYX, SAP/Nvidia, Wefic, Kinetic, WellAware/CheckPoint, Wood Group.

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Standards stuff...

Energistics ETP ratified. OGC WFS/CAT validators. IEE fog computing work group. OSGE/IGI team on open geo-data and GeoForAll. IIC reports on testbeds. W3C spatial data on the web ontologies.

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Safety first ...

Fieldbit Heros for BP. ProcessMap for TNT. CSB reports on Torrance. California refinery standards.

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Nubeva gets Chevron Tech Ventures cash

StratusEdge's 'cloud service chaining' technology secures oil and gas cloud migrations.

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Quorum acquires WellEZ

Cloud-based well analytics extends digital oilfield footprint. myQuorum Design Studio announced.

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Back to school

Boxley Group CompetencyIQ. Landmark STEPS. SEG Evolve. Lloyds register VR safety simulator.

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Artificial intelligence and the oil check

Why 'predict' when you can measure? Spectro's MicroLab claims best of both worlds.

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Weatherford, Intel and the IoT oilfield gateway

Gateway embeds Intel security, Wind River cloud with ForeSite production optimization.

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DNV GL's 1,000-strong digital solutions unit

New unit to boost Veracity cloud data platform. GE scales-back on Predix.

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Baker Hughes leverages Matlab ML/NN toolboxes

Huge savings expected from failure predictions derived from terabyte frac fleet training data set.

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