While stability might not be quite the operative word, oil prices kept at levels above the depths of 2016 and confidence began to return to the market. OPEC’s January decision to cut 1.8 million barrels per day has broadly held, yet prices have remained low enough to stoke demand – all of which has contributed to a more optimistic outlook than has been seen over the past three years.
From an innovation and technology perspective, 2017 has marked a continuation of the need to do more with less, but it has also seen the industry explore and embrace new ideas with a willingness not afforded during the worst of the downturn.
At the same time, advances in autonomous systems, machine learning and digitalisation have picked up even greater momentum and are now entering the industry mainstream. With operators now more aware of the quality of data available from autonomous inspection systems, for example, and the time and cost savings that can be achieved in acquiring it, many seem more willing to incorporate such technologies into their planning.
The opportunities offered by ubiquitous blockchain technology have also begun to show their worth in energy trading applications, and their influence too is likely to grow in the coming years.
2017 has also marked a coming-of-age for floating LNG (FLNG). With the world’s first facility – Petronas’ PFLNG Satu – producing first gas at the close of last year, this summer saw delivery of Exmar’s Caribbean facility from Wison, as well as the float-out of Royal Dutch Shell’s Prelude offshore Australia (which should be completed sometime in H1 2018). Meanwhile, floating LNG hoses have also gained traction as power developers and LNG suppliers alike look at ways of lowering the cost of fluid transfer – particularly in small and micro-scale power LNG applications.
Underpinning this all is the move by a number of oil and gas companies to diversify. Many like Statoil, Shell and Engie are now positioning themselves as “energy companies” rather than upstream or downstream hydrocarbon specialists – or indeed anything in between. Done right, this should not only open up new business opportunities in renewables and energy storage, but should also mean an increased uptake of clean and low-carbon technologies within oil and gas – many of which can help to improve balance sheets and bottom lines. One need only look to InnovOil’s recent exploration with Parker as to the potential for vessel and rig batteries to see the savings that can be made.
Our 2017 Annual sees us look back over the most interesting, intriguing and disruptive innovations of the past year. It also looks ahead to next year, as the NewsBase Intelligence editorial team discuss the developments and trends that will shape major projects and oil-producing regions in 2018.
On behalf of the staff at InnovOil, I would like to extend thanks to all the innovators, solutions providers and professionals that have helped us put the magazine together this year. InnovOil will return in the New Year ahead of the annual Subsea Expo event in Aberdeen – and we hope to see you there too.
In the meantime, the team and I wish you all a wonderful Holiday season and the very best for a prosperous and productive 2018.