Is there a future for the oil and gas industry?

Oil and gas. The real cause of globalisation, the current fuel for most means of transportation and the reason that your food does not get stuck to a pot when you are cooking. Oil and gas have been driving economic growth at the expense of the planet’s climate for the last century, however, with the world turning its head towards renewable energy, this leaves the oil and gas industry in an existential crisis. In the short-term future, demand for energy produced from oil and gas down was due to the pandemic. In the long-term, well, there may be a more complicated end to this form of energy. Whichever way it ends, its overall use will certainly depreciate and so will its value.

So where did it all begin and how did we become so reliant on these now less efficient products? Firstly, most people fail to understand how all 3 forms of non-renewable energy: coal, oil (or petroleum), and natural gas are formed, giving us the reason as to why they are non-renewable and finite.

Millions of years ago, algae, plants and other microscopic organisms lived in warm, shallow oceans. After they died, they sank to the seafloor and the organic material mixed with other sediments and was buried. Over millions of years under high pressure and high temperature, the remains of these organisms transformed into what we know today as fossil fuels.

Today, petroleum is found in vast underground reservoirs where ancient seas were located, and the petroleum reservoirs can be found beneath land or the ocean floor and the crude oil is extracted with giant drilling machines. Oil and gas engineers are involved in the process of extracting oil and natural gas from reservoirs. They may be drilling engineers, those who design and supervise the drilling process unique to each petroleum deposit or production engineers, people who develop new mining and drilling equipment, as well as designing new extraction processes to optimise each oil field and gas deposit. Petroleum is used to make many things that we come across in our everyday lives. It is also processed and part of thousands of different items, including plastics, tires and can be burnt for energy, releasing toxic gases and high amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

There have been some forecasts that approximately in the next 5 years, the demand for oil and gas is expected to increase but then will start to decline after this period due to renewable energies becoming cheaper, decreasing demand for fossil fuels. However, it will not be simple to just mitigate the use of fossil fuels without a decent plan of action, which is why many companies have now been looking at different options to try and keep the industry from collapse whilst reducing their effect on the environment. One of these options is to implement initiatives that offset emissions by tapping into neutral carbon sinks such as plants, forests and oceans. This reduces the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere whilst still being able to use fossil fuels.

The oil and gas industry was once an area in which many different people could get jobs with flexibility, permanency, and good pay, but now that we know how fossil fuels negatively impact our environment, it may be a sector that may undergo a slow decline in both dependence and popularity. Over the short term, this industry will be looking for ways to create more stability but in the long-term, it may be looking at a slow decline in the number of people employed in the sector, the demand for the product and potentially a change in the way we live our lives as we know it.

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