Global energy leaders discuss dispelling shale gas myths

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Representatives from three of the biggest energy companies on the planet today debated how to tackle public and political perceptions that have all but halted unconventional and shale gas projects in Europe.

Day Three of the Gastech Conference & Exhibition at the ExCeL London, also saw a number of major new contracts signed by top companies showcasing their technologies at the event.

Senior figures from ExxonMobil, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes took part in a series of Unconventional Gas discussions and debates. Current estimates suggest USD 10 billion will be spent annually on exploratory drilling for shale gas, outside of North America, yet governments, particularly in Europe, continue to have strong reservations about unconventional and shale gas projects, and hydraulic fracking.

Speaking at a specially arranged panel session, Rustom K Mody, VP Technology, Completions & Production, Baker Hughes, said it was vital that operators take a completely transparent approach when speaking with communities, local authorities, NGOs and special interest groups.

He added: “Thousands and thousands of wells have been drilled in North America and to date there have been no cases of groundwater contamination by hydraulic fracking. None of the chemicals used are toxic, most appear in every day materials including food, and about 91% of what is pumped downhole is water.”

Tristan Aspray, Exploration Operations Manager, Europe and Greenland, ExxonMobil International, said: “One concern that has been raised is that a move towards more shale developments could see a reduction in renewable energy projects, but we have seen the exact opposite of this in North America, the most active area currently for shale gas production.”

Doug Bentley, European Unconventional Resources Manager for Schlumberger said many shale projects, particularly in the US, were focused on reducing the amounts of resources used in fracking operations through a variety of means, including using existing surface water.

On the exhibition floor, a number of major announcements were made today, including the signing of a new Commercial Development Agreement between SBM Offshore, a leading supplier of leased FPSOs, and CompactGTL Ltd, the pioneer of modular gas to liquid solutions. The agreement will see the two organisations work exclusively together on offshore projects.

CompactGTL Chief Executive, Nicholas Gay, said: “CompactGTL is delighted that we have been able to cement our longstanding relationship with SBM Offshore. It is a world class company and, combined with our expertise in delivering the world’s first commercial scale modular gas to liquids solution for associated gas, will have significant impact on the offshore oilfield appraisal and development sector.”

On their stand at the Gastech exhibition, Safe Fire and Gas Ltd (SFG) signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Opgal for their EYECGAS safety camera. Equipped with a 75mm lens, it is the only camera certified for use in Class I Div 2 hazardous locations, and allows for remote detection and visualisation of gas leaks from great distances.

SFG Managing Director, Trevor Prior, said: “This product augments our existing strategy in supporting our customers with their compliance of existing and new safety legislation.”

Thousands of delegates have this week been treated to unrivalled opportunities to access global gas industry figures as they discuss major issues facing the sector. Besides the Unconventional Gas stream, today’s conference sessions involved commercial and technical streams including Gas Monetisation, Advances in Gas Technology and LNG for Transport.

The Financing Gas Supply & Infrastructure Day – hosted by Herbert Smith Freehills and Ernst & Young – included a morning session on Financing & Debt Raising, which featured globally prominent finance figures such as Societe Generale’s Managing Director of Energy Project Finance, Katan Hirachand; Chief Financial Officer of BG Group, Fabio Barbosa; and Moriyuki Aida, of the Japan Bank for International Co-operation.

The afternoon session featured a discussion on Delivering the LNG Value Chain, with presentations from Stephen Murray, Global Head of Oil & Gas for Herbert Smith Freehills and Andy Brogan, Ernst & Young’s Global Leader for its Oil & Gas Transaction Advisory Services.

One of the most popular and eagerly anticipated elements of this year’s Gastech was the return of the Centres of Technical Excellence seminar programme.

Today’s CoTEs included a session devoted to Cryogenics, which explored ground-breaking scientific advances and how they could help the natural gas sector meet the growing global demand for energy.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, combines state-of-the-art science and engineering and its revolutionary cryogenics system has been designed to keep the machine at a temperature so close to absolute zero that it can operate in a superconductive state. Similar technologies are now being considered for use in both the energy and electrical power industries. Dr Philippe Lebrun, who led CERN’s Accelerator Technology Department for the construction of the LHC, shared with delegates his fascinating insight about the cryogenic technology at the heart of the system, and several projects that are following this trend.

Among those sharing their technical know-how in the Offshore & Subsea Technology CoTE was Duncan Bates, mechanical engineer and project manager at Deep Sea Recovery Limited, which has developed a Controllable Buoyancy System (CBS) to help tackle many of the issues associated with decommissioning and other subsea tasks which require the movement of heavy loads.

Today also marked the final session of the hugely popular ignite! The Energy Recruitment Show which showcased opportunities available around the world with some of the biggest companies.

Speaking at the Development of Human Capital panel this morning were industry leaders, Sarah Beacock, Professional Affairs Director at the Energy Institute; Lorraine Porter, Director of STATS Group; Ieda Gomes, Managing Director at Energix Strategy Ltd; and Roy Calder, Sales Consulting Manager, Engineering & Simulation at Invensys Operations Management.

The session discussed how young people find it increasingly challenging to get into the oil and gas industry, and the difficulties faced by the industry to find people with the necessary knowledge and experience.

Gavin Sutcliffe, head of content for Gastech said: “The biggest issues facing the energy sector today are being debated here at Gastech by those who hold the greatest levels of expertise. The ability to attract organisations of the stature of Societe Generale and global operators like ExxonMobil and Baker Hughes – to name but a few – reflects why this conference and exhibition is considered one of the most important on the energy industry calendar.”

Highlights of tomorrow’s conference and exhibition include a presentation by Wood Mackenzie senior analyst, Stephen O’Rourke who will examine how the dynamics, fundamentals and politics between Central Asia, China, Russia and Europe will impact future gas supply and demand.

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