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From reservoir engineer to carbon capture specialist: Martin’s journey

02 December 2019
Martin’s career path started out in reservoir development and engineering, but since then it has shifted pretty dramatically 
Martin Towns, director of carbon capture, use and storage sitting on a couch

Martin joined BP 19 years ago and spent time working as a graduate production engineer, on an offshore facility west of the Shetlands.

After spending two years working in the Angola team, Martin came back to Scotland and worked as a reservoir engineer on BP’s Foinaven field. Martin’s early career coincided with the development of 4D seismic technology. As he explains, “my role involved integrating 4D seismic to form a complete understanding of the reservoir and the wells. Using 4D we could understand what possibilities lay below the surface, which allowed us to make the right decisions regarding development and investment”.


Carbon capture for the dual transition


Now Martin’s work is focused on answering one of the biggest questions of our time. How can we make sure that people can continue to use energy and enjoy the things that make their lives happy and fulfilling, in a sustainable way?


This might seem detached from the work that Martin used to do, but he disagrees. “This is a topic that has always been close to my heart, and the skills I gained from my time working in reservoir development have proved crucial in my current job. We all have a major role to play in this energy transition,” he says. 


As Director of Carbon Capture, Use and Storage, Martin is responsible for BP’s global carbon capture strategy. “We work with others to deliver projects, but we are the front end, focused on developing news ideas, shaping them and bringing them into BP”, he explains.    


Advancing towards a more sustainable future


In the US, BP is helping deliver a study for the US Department of Energy, advising on how carbon capture can be used most effectively.

Closer to home, BP is part of the Advisory Group and Council on carbon capture, use and storage, which is working with the government on how best the UK can deploy carbon capture technologies. “For me, the highlight has been seeing BP embrace new technologies,” Martin shares. “It’s great to feel like we are opening up a new industry, seeking to do something tremendously important. Knowing that what we are doing will serve society is really satisfying”, he says.


The UK’s Net Zero Teesside project is a great example of this. At its core is an Oil & Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) project to develop the world’s first gas-powered energy plant using carbon capture technology. The carbon capture system will be the first of its kind and works by compressing captured CO2 from the power plant and transporting it to the North Sea for sequestration. Martin says, “BP is one of six companies working together on the project, and there are clear advantages to this approach.

Carbon capture has the potential to deliver reliable, flexible, clean power, available on demand, even when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing”. 

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