Oil and gas resources

Technology can increase oil and gas recovery rates and reduce costs

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An external perspective on technology’s impact on oil and gas resources from Paul Markwell, VP of Upstream Oil and Gas Consulting and Research, IHS Energy

Technology will play a major role in providing oil and gas to meet demand over the coming decades as the world transitions to a lower-carbon economy. 

Our estimates suggest that cumulative oil and gas demand out to 2050 could be around 2.5 trillion barrels of oil equivalent. No major technology breakthroughs are needed to meet this demand. Our analysis shows that applying today’s best available technologies to discovered oil and gas resources could significantly increase ‘reserves’ from 2.9 trillion barrels of oil equivalent to 4.8 trillion barrels.

Technology helps keep oil and gas resources plentiful

Applying today’s best available technologies to discovered oil and gas resources could significantly increase ‘reserves’ from 2.9 trillion barrels of oil equivalent to 4.8 trillion barrels

Key technology levers

The most significant change to resource opportunities over the past 10 years has been the advent of production from shale and tight rock – this has more than doubled total potentially accessible oil and gas in discovered reservoirs. Other key technology levers include enhanced oil recovery – the biggest contributor to increasing recoverable oil volumes – subsurface imaging, and operational improvement through the use of digital technologies, such as sensors, robotics and supercomputers for data analysis.

Future technology advances and new discoveries could add a further 2.7 trillion technically recoverable barrels of oil equivalent through to 2050. Given that nations are increasingly seeking to limit carbon emissions by using less energy and shifting towards lower carbon fuels, it is unlikely that all these resources will be required.

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