By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Sept. 14 -- For the oil industry to continue meeting its long-term responsibility of providing energy to the world economies, it needs to continue to identify new oil fields, said Saudi Aramco Pres. and Chief Executive Abdallah S. Jum'ah.
This is just one of "five technology targets" critical for the industry to maintain its obligation, said Jum'ah during a panel discussion on technology and future energy supplies at the Third OPEC International Seminar.
He believes that industry professionals could find trillions of additional barrels of producible potential through continued technological advances, and challenges the industry to add 1 trillion bbl of oil to world reserves over the next quarter-century.
"Ambitious? Yes," Jum'ah said. "But, I am confident in our ability to attain that target because of the tremendous advances we are seeing in a wide range of exploration technologies, including the massive computing power that supports a wide range of upstream applications."
The second technology target is to increase oil recovery rates from known fields. Over the next 25 years, increasing incremental recovery rates for existing fields by 20% is feasible, Jum'ah said. This would add another trillion barrels of oil to the world's reserves base, he said.
Jum'ah said the third technology targetreducing exploration and production costswould turn prospects that were previously uneconomically viable into attractive investment opportunities.
E&P in deep water and extreme cold, as well as higher-cost enhanced oil recovery applications have all become more feasible in today's healthy price environment, leading to excellent prospects for future advancements, he said.
Target four is development of unconventional oil resources. Jum'ah said extra-heavy oil, tar sands, and bitumen account for about 4.7 trillion bbl of oil in-place, which is already being exploited. Other unconventional sources include oil shales, which Jum'ah said pose even more thorny challenges, but with the potential for over 2.5 trillion bbl of oil cannot be ignored.
The fifth technology target underscored each of the other four and concerns lightening the environmental footprint of the industry's activities and of its products, Jum'ah said.
He added that if technology is not turned toward the environmental issue with as much urgency as it is toward exploration and production challenges, the oil industry could find itself with fewer places to look for energy.
"Advanced 3D seismic, super-detailed reservoir modeling, and MRC [maximum reservoir contact] wells mean nothing without access to fields, which in turn is dependent upon the consent of governments and the public."
In light of these technology targets, Jum'ah said that he believes about 2 trillion bbl can be added from yet-to-be-discovered fields and increased recovery rates over the next 25 years. And 1.5 trillion bbl can be extracted from nonconventional sources using current technology. Add these, he said, to the 1.2 trillion bbl of current proven reserves, and the total potential is for over 4.5 trillion bbl.
"That number," Jum'ah said, "translates into more than 140 years of supply at today's current rate of consumption."