Volume 25 Number 1


Editorial Calorie counting

On energy paradoxes – oil expensive globally, cheap at home. Energy transition for China, Japan Germany? Build more coal-fired power stations! EU transitioning to e-vehicles and selling more gas guzzlers. Nailing the ‘paradox’ of the heat pump.

I sat in on a meeting hosted by the International Energy Agency here in Paris to hear the great and the good discuss the energy transition. I don’t propose to summarize this right now, perhaps next month, along with the IEA’s informative analysis of Oil and gas in energy transitions. Lets just state what seems to be the consensus and say that the industry’s days are numbered, even if we don’t yet know what the number is.

Talking of energy in its broader sense I came across a graph that I found interesting. S&P Global Platts Analytics has just released its 2020 energy outlook. The press release includes a graph of energy prices. Not, as we are used to seeing, with oil in dollars per barrel and coal in dollars per tonne. This graph shows the cost of a unit of energy. During 2019, oil varied from $8 to $12 per MMBtu* with an average of around $10. Natural gas at the US Henry hub was a snip at around $2, although as natural gas gets shipped around the world it gets quite a bit more expensive, around $6 in Japan and the UK. Coal is cheap too, at a pretty constant $3.

Now I know that the world is turning away from fossil fuels. But note how expensive oil is compared to natural gas and coal. This has meant that producers of these cheaper fuels (US for natural gas, China and India for coal) have a huge incentive to use them. China is building new coal plants as is India. So is Japan. Even virtuous ‘green’ energiewende Germany is building a new coal fired generating station at Datteln.

Of course, the above prices are the price for raw heat. To compare these with renewables we have to look at the price of generated electricity. This is quite tricky depending on geographies, taxes and so on and is pretty comprehensively covered elsewhere, by the IEA for instance. But there is a paradox here. While the reports all have it that wind and solar are now ‘competitive’ with fossil fuels for the electricity generators, this is definitely not the case for the consumer. I can heat my home (and I am afraid I do) much more cheaply with fuel oil than electricity from the grid. OK I should have photovoltaics on the roof but these, although perhaps cheaper than grid electricity would I think have a job competing with the cheap, untaxed calories that my pink diesel provides.

Going back to oil, why is it so expensive? I guess it is demand and, in particular, demand for it as a mobile fuel for cars, boats and planes. With the exception of planes, oil is now at risk of being displaced by electricity from any of the above sources. My evidence for this comes from a fellow dog walker who works in the EU automobile sector which is currently undergoing convulsions as manufacturers are being forced by government to shift their production to e-vehicles. There is little evidence of this happening on the street. Except for the paradox that there are more and more gas guzzling SUV’s on Europe’s roads. This is conjectured to be due to manufacturers dumping their last models before the new regulations, creating a likely CO2 blip that will see us through the next few tens of ppm of CO2 and tenths of a degree of warming.

Walking through a Paris suburb recently I came across a heavy-duty drilling rig operating on a rather large pad filled with service company kit. It was a geothermal well (oil exploration has been banned in France). They must have been testing the produced water as there was quite a lot of hot vapor coming off the operation. Subsequent research determined that this was a breakthrough test of the deepest geothermal target in the Paris basin, the Triassic, with water produced at somewhere around 80°C. The idea being that the deeper you go, the hotter is the produced water. The hotter the water, the more energy. Pretty obvious really.

Even for the ‘obvious’, confirmation is always useful. I chatted with some heat pump specialists at GE Oil & Gas last year who were showing off some rather impressive industrial systems that manage to use the energy in hot flue gasses. The waste heat recovery systems like their heat hot! Several hundred degrees C at least otherwise, forget it!

So how is it that the folks who promote low temperature geothermal energy, including incidentally the IEA through its HeatPumps.org resource, can get energy from tiny temperature differences of a few tens of degrees? Long-time readers of Oil IT Journal will perhaps recall my earlier quixotic tilting at the windmills of the heat pump brigade, in 2008 and 2013. Since these early rants, I have given the heat pump fallacy some further thought, and I think I have got it nailed. The heat pumpers rely on a property of the reversible air conditioning unit (the essence of the heat pump) called the ‘coefficient of performance’, the COP. This is often quoted as a number around 3x or 4x and is presented as an energy multiplier. In other words, for 1 kilowatt of energy input you get 3 or 4 kw out, a fantastic deal! But if you look into how the COP is defined there is a small problem. Wikipedia and other sources give the COP as a ratio of temperatures as T(cool)/(T(cool)-T(hot)) for a cooling system. As the temperature difference tends to zero (i.e. when there is no heat flow available), the COP actually increases. This is often cited as a benefit of such systems which are ‘most efficient’ at vanishingly small temperature differences.

This apparent paradox is due to a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of what the COP Is measuring. As a ratio of temperatures, it is a measure of the gearing in the system. The COP is not a measure of energy (heat) at all**. The COP just tells you how cold your office will be for a given outside temperature. The energy used to do the cooling all comes from the mains electricity that is driving the pump. The shallow borehole, the serpentine under your lawn, the ‘air-geothermal’ fans or pipes going down into the ocean are simply fantastical artifices to fool the unwary.

* Million British thermal units.

** Confusing heat and temperature is quite commonplace as a recent letter to Physics Today explained.

Headlines

Total’s ‘Apollo’ DevOps in-the-cloud

2,000 app portfolio to be rationalized and lift-and-shifted to the public cloud. ‘Strategically differentiating’ apps to be developed in-house with multi-cloud DevOps approach.

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Infoscience Technologies launches Opportunity Finder

Patented ‘DNA sequencing-inspired’ algorithm claimed to locate non-obvious plays in large text collections.

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Halliburton and OSDU

Landmark continues to ‘work diligently’ on connecting Decision Space 365 into the Open Subsurface Data Universe.

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Schlumberger to double digital revenues. Dataiku deal brings AI to ‘cognitive’ Delfi

Shift to ‘asset-light’, digitally-driven business. Early Delfi ‘lacked readiness and breadth’. Teaming with Google-backed Dataiku adds data science to Delfi.

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Going, going ... green

NAP on ‘deep decarbonization’. Chatham House disses ‘ineffective’ CO2 removal tech. Northern Lights CCS on NCS. DoE funds LANL’s DigiMon program. IOGP calls on EU to scale-up CCS. OGCI CCUS KickStarter. MIT on uncertain ‘bridge fuel’ role for natural gas. Project Canary, Payne Institute to monitor Colorado fugitive emissions. BP deploys gas cloud imaging. Gaffney-Cline on use of Stanford’s OPGEE carbon monitor. Canada funds e-dump valve actuator development. Energy Futures Initiative report on ‘Clearing the air’. US EPA relaxes ‘redundant’ Obama-era regulations. ONE Future members reduced methane intensity. Yokogawa/KBC on end game strategy for oil and gas. ABB on climate change and downstream. Gaffney-Cline on CCUS status. Oxy Low Carbon Ventures to study CCUS at Holcim cement works. Direct air capture by MIT. BP funds FiniteCarbon offsets. Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures fund. ISO environmental monitoring standard. IOGP environmental genomics. Geology and decarbonization. Total ditches US association membership. MIT on climate financial disclosure. The (sustainable) world according to GARP. BBC Radio 4 on CCS, ‘net zero’ and the survival of the oil industry.

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Kosmos deploys Geocomputing RiVA.

Re-architected geotechnical system provides Dallas-based explorer with remote, low latency access to multi petabyte geodata set.

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2019 LBCG Results-Driven Analytics conference, Houston

Anadarko/Oxy goes all-in on MQTT protocol and calls for a coalition of oil and gas MQTT users

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Software, hardware short takes

Badley Trap Tester. de Groot-Bril OpendTect. Geomodeling AttributeStudio. geoLOGIC geoSCOUT. Geosoft. Kappa Workstation. Madagascar. Emerson Paradigm 19. Thermo Fisher Scientific PerGeos. Sharp Reflections Pre-Stack Pro. Target Meera. Interica OneView. INT GeoToolkit.JS. Schlumberger Ocean. SitePro Mobile. Twenty20 Solutions SWD. EcoPoint. Gulf Energy Information Energy Web Atlas. MJ Logs WLS. Rockware PetroVisual. RRC interactive maps. Orbital Insight GO. Huber+Suhner Radox OFL. AspenTech Cloud by Mnubo. Detechtion Technologies Enbase Asset Monitor. Emerson Mette. Endress+Hauser Proline Promag, Liquiphant. Opto 22 groov EPIC. Hexagon HxDR. Mechanical Solutions VibVue. Shell LubeAnalyst. Yokogawa Exaquantum PIMS.

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National Data repositories 2019

Under new TNO management, NDR hears from Shell on ‘robust’ ITC infrastructures and cloud technologies. Energistics on data submittal standards. North Sea Data Management Forum moots common North Sea metadata. Norway’s Released Wells project. UK’s ‘Overlooked Pay’.

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2019 Society of Petroleum Engineers Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Calgary

A tale of two transitions, in energy and digitalization. Panel session on responsible energy development. Sustainability special session. The ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ of oil and gas data analytics. ‘Operationalizing’ AI. Automating of well construction. Panel session on strategies and tactics for digitalization. Nanotechnology for the oilfield. Notes from the exhibition.

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Folks, facts, orgs…

Applied Petroleum Technology, AqualisBraemar, Argus, Aspen Technology, Basic Energy Services, BCCK Holding, Borr Drilling, BP, CAM Integrated Solutions, University of Cambridge, Detechtion Technologies, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, Evolen, TietoEvry, Express Energy Services, Flotek, Flowserve, Foster Marketing, Fugro, Hexagon, IFPen, ION Geophysical, Noble Corporation, Oceaneering International, Opportune LLP, OspreyData, Occidental, Recon Technology, Texas Railroad Commission, Ryder Scott, SAP, Siemens, Schlumberger, Stratagraph, T.D. Williamson, ThoughtTrace, Twenty20 Solutions, XBRL Standards Board, USPI-NL. Deaths.

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Done deals …

Apergy, Ecolab. BP, R&B. CGG, Fugro. Fugro, HC2 Holdings, Global Marine Group. FLIR Systems, Providence Photonics. Forbes Energy Services, Superior Energy Services.. Hexagon, Cowi. Honeywell, Rebellion Photonics. Mistras Group, New Century Software. Otodata Wireless Network, CIBC. Petrofac, W&W Energy Services. VMware, Pivotal. Recon Technology, Nasdaq. Seeq, SAEV. Stress Engineering Services, Laserstream. Weatherford International.

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20019 IQ-Hub North American Well Site Automation Conference, Houston

Unico - Pump Expert and the ‘data of Damocles’. IOT-eq/Weir Data Intelligence dashboard. NCC Group on failure of IoT/predictive maintenance. Baker Hughes on the growing threat landscape of the IoT. More automation IoT insights from Siemens, Industrial Internet Consortium and others.

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2019 Emerson User Exchange, Americas

Total’s Culzaen digital twin. Petronas on PlantWeb Optics and reliability. U Alberta/Spartan Controls, KnowledgeNet analytics and SAGD ESP monitoring. COSIA JIP. Workstation virtualizaton at PDO, Aramco.

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Standards stuff ...

BGS GeoPackage, Energistics ETP 1.2, Industrial Internet Consortium Forum, IOGP Report 592 (subsea capping), IOGP/EPSG data model, ISO and AI, Open Geospatial Consortium catalog service, PPDM facilities training, PPDM Pusdatin, BGS and the new world magnetic model.

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Sales, partnerships …

Arvizio, Magic Leap. Basic Energy Services, Wellbore Integrity Solutions, OFS Portal. BP, Amazon Web Services. ChaiOne, Payload, Conexiom, Microsoft, PIDX. CMG, Shell. Dell, ENI. DNO, DNV GL. Brunei Shell, GEP. Sinopec Sripe, eDrilling. Emerson/Paradigm, Repsol. EnergyIQ, WhiteStar. ExxonMobil, Fiserv, Amazon. ExxonMobil, Tencent. Schlachter Oil, Field Squared. Getech/Exprodat, OSDU. Halliburton, Repsol. Endeavor Energy Resources, IFS Applications. Lekoil, Infor. Katalyst Data Management, IHS Markit. Schneider Electric, Kinaxis. Knust-Godwin, Velo3D. Neptune Energy, Cegal, Bluware. Nuverra, Ondiflo. Blendtech, Opto22. Petrofac, Microsoft. PGS, Google. Recon Technology, Future Gas Station, Xinglin. Eurotech, Retelit. Nanalysis Scientific, Sartec. Searcher Seismic, Cloudera. Schlumberger, ExxonMobil. Storage Heaven, ThinkOn.

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Semantic come-back?

Cambridge Semantics pushes Anzo graph database for heterogeneous oil and gas data. AnzoGraphDB 2.0 adds freeware edition.

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Regulatory round-up

AER OneStop permitting. Canadian Energy Regulator to ‘modernize’ energy sector. Texas Railroad Commission modernizes IT, releases Online Inspection Lookup. UK Oil & Gas Authority’s digital excellence initiative.

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MQTT is hot!

Deployment of the popular process data format is displacing proprietary scada formats. Inductive Automation’s has used MQTT to apply machine learning to Streamline Innovations’ sulfur extraction process, providing clients with an ‘HMI-on-a-stick’. Opto 22 demystifies the recently announced Node Red V1.0 and reports on a netDNA implementation for New Wave Energy Services. Linux Format article shows how MQTT brings sensor data access to the hobbyist.

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Process engineering and engineering data standards

Oil IT Journal hears from CO-LaN on the rationale for linking process simulation with engineering, piping and instrumentation. CFIHOS and DEXPI are in the loop.

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Microbial DNA tracks subsurface fluid pathways

DNA ‘barcode’ overcomes limited ‘traditional methods’ for identifying well connections and natural fractures.

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Artificial Intelligence to solve the ‘zeolite conundrum’

MIT Energy Initiative awards seed fund grant to find novel catalysts.

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