How the Oil & Gas Industry Can Use Technology to Overcome Environmental Challenges

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Photo by Johannes Plenio: pexels.com

Environmental consciousness is a key factor of business today, and many eyes are on the oil and gas industry. It’s increasingly being pushed to take responsibility for its ecological impact, most notably its methane footprint.

Though the industry can be seen as inherently unsustainable and opposed to green initiatives, it can actually do much to become more environmentally friendly. The answer lies in sustainable technology. By implementing new technological solutions into its processes and business practices, the fossil fuel industry can become more effective, more streamlined, and less damaging to the ecosphere. Here are some of the fields where green progress is being made.

Investing in water recycling

The oil industry is notorious for the amount of freshwater it consumes in its day-to-day operations. The two most problematic processes are fracking and element separation. Water is essential in separating the oil from other elements in the oil sands.

New technology has contributed to recycling the water, instead of wasting it. On average, approximately 80-95% is now reused. There is also a push to reduce the use of water from the outset, rather than relying on recycling as damage control. New processes are being introduced to improve filtration. In addition, water treatment to eliminate contamination has vastly improved. Rather than chemical processes, UV treatment is becoming increasingly common.

Environmental
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Improving the overall processes

Oil and gas companies are making an effort to adhere to better business practices and reduce their environmental impact. On top of specific troubleshooting, they’re also improving auxiliary practices throughout the industry. Advancements in green technology and industrial software help make processes more cost-effective, resource-effective, and sustainable.

The focus is on achieving better results in less time, at lesser investments, and at the cost of less environmental resources. For example, let’s say a new dig site is discovered. Instead of drilling trial and error, modern companies can use ultrasound scanning and 3D modeling technology.

The virtual models can demonstrate the structural integrity of a proposed well, assess the dig site’s overall viability, and analyze other aspects of the venture. This data then enables cost-effective, eco-smart decisions with minimal resource waste. Such software solutions are complemented by innovative mechanical aspects: smooth automation, robotics, and overall more specialized machinery.

Improving equipment to reduce leaks

Methane output is one of the biggest concerns in terms of global warming and climate change in general. Companies operating in the gas and oil industry today are striving to reduce their contribution by buying oilfield products that are of high-quality standards, as well as more environmentally friendly. Technical developments help reduce methane spills, system breakdowns, and oil spills. Some of the new equipment includes micro-refineries which reduce oil waste. Used oil is turned into fuel for the industry or the market, so less is wasted and there’s less of an environmental impact.

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Focusing on oil recycling

Oil recycling technology is also advancing. Rather than keep adhering to previous un-ecological disposal practices, companies are implementing micro-scale refinery units. Waste oil is made into diesel fuel.

This presents oil companies with three benefits:

  • It’s a more eco-friendly way to dispose of used oil
  • It’s relatively inexpensive compared to other disposal methods
  • It results in affordable and available fuel for further operations.

Digitizing oilfields

Digitalization has spread into the oil and gas industry as well, in the form of “digital oilfields”. It’s an information management process. By using big data and cloud service technology, all operational data on a given field can be recorded, monitored, and analyzed in real-time. Utilizing this approach results in safer operational decisions and more sustainable long-term operations.

Photo by Andreas Gücklhorn on Unsplash

Implementing renewable energy technology

The leading direction in renewable energy technologies is solar power. It is experiencing rapid growth and increased popularity, especially in the residential context. Solar panel installation is soaring in private homes as well as office buildings, and especially in holiday residences where people want to have some guaranteed power stability of the urban grids. Other renewable energy sources include wind, hydroelectric systems, and biofuel, to name just the most widespread.

It might seem a little counterintuitive for companies dealing in fossil resources, but renewable energy sources are a highly desirable investment nowadays. It’s a notably lucrative market segment. So, although the big fossil players are investing in order to profit, they are still contributing to the development of renewable energy.

Natural gas and fossil oil are not inherently renewable. The processes of extracting and using them produce many byproducts, such as methane, that are damaging to the environment. However, by utilizing modern equipment and dedicated software, the industrial processes are becoming more sustainable in the long term.

New methods are being introduced, like water and oil recycling, UV treatments, ultrasound scanning and 3D modeling, and digital oilfields. The oil and gas industry is doing its part to reduce harmful effects and contribute to a more eco-friendly business landscape.