Hui Shan

Job Steward at NrgEdge. If you are an Energy Professional (Oil, Gas, Energy) contact me for opportunities
Last Updated: November 3, 2018
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Human Resources
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Today, oil and gas industry is adopting a proactive measures rather than reactive approach to ensure optimum efficiency and ‘precision, consistency and repetition’ of all the processes within an upstream and downstream flow. This results in smooth functioning and higher productivity. To ensure this, the energy industry has shifted its focus towards digitization, artificial intelligence, automation, and other technological advancements to meet the needs of the diverse energy market. The impact of automation on oil and gas sector has been significant and will also impact the future course of events.

Automation is extremely versatile and can make an immense difference in the day to day activities. On the flip side, it means it can simplify the process and eliminate or modify some workforce requirement. Let us understand the activities that have been impacted by automation:

Diagnostics and monitoring- Inspection process of underwater equipment for repair and upgrade can be easily monitored by underwater drones and unmanned submersibles. The data can be broadcasted as live video feeds and can be centrally monitored and controlled. This will eliminate the need for skilled pilots however the vacancy for skilled auditor/analysts will open to analyze and monitor data

Weather monitoring system - Changes in seismic activity, ocean or atmosphere can impact the day to day activities of the energy industry. Thus, a weather monitoring system is put in place in the oil and gas industry. The system predicts natural calamities like earthquake, hurricanes and so on so that precautionary plan and safety measures can be activated. The automation here ensures job opportunity in the respective arena.

Drilling operations - Drilling is one of the most expensive processes for the oil and gas industry as it requires precision, high technical skills, and considerable safety risks for workers. Automating the manual activities like pipe handling and pressure drilling can enhance the overall drilling process by reducing safety hazards and speeding up the process. The labor force involved in these activities have a risk of losing job however if the workforce is trained well, they can be absorbed in some other tasks involving upgraded skillsets.

Measurement and monitoring pressure and flow - Automation has improved the efficiency manifolds. Smart sensors are installed to measure the pressure and flow of oil. sensors are connected to the central monitoring system, where the flow and pressure are monitored on regular basis and can be adjusted as per the need. This eliminates the requirement for an on-site crew. Only a few experts are hired to monitor and measure the pressure and flow and take the required action.

Rig management and monitoring - There are sensors that are installed on oil rigs at the various levels which produces data on a continuous basis. The data are carefully studied to manage, monitor and improve the performance of the rig. This also means the managerial and labor force required to manage rig goes down and new roles to comprehend data into meaningful strategies pop up.

Hiring and training - Energy sector had a traditional approach for hiring and training, however, things have changed with the advent of technology and digitization. Now with platforms like NrgEdge, finding the right candidate for the job role has got a lot easier. Also, the energy sector is absorbing new age tech-savvy candidates who are expert in digital media and analysis. For training and development of the workforce, simulation and augmented reality have made it easier to train candidate from any location. From job perspective, it will be safer to say job roles have changed but has certainly not declined.

Impact of automation on various aspects of job:

Labor productivity - Productivity tends to increase over time with automation and technological breakthroughs. 

Job roles - job roles that require interpersonal skills, and creativity will be challenging to automate while the ones which require data collection, monitoring and analysis will be easier to automate. 

Job polarization - Physical labor and some white-collar jobs have been replaced with automated processes and better software and computing power. 

Hazardous work - Dangerous jobs in oil rigs have been automated or in the process of automation. This is done to ensure safer work conditions. However, it also implies lower compensation rates for workers as the risk factors get mitigated. Thus, automation deployed in offshore will reduce physical labor on rigs but will also open opportunities for more engineering jobs in control rooms.

Final take: Will automation eliminate jobs or transform them?

Economists draw examples from the industrial revolution to demonstrate that the economy can create new jobs when the progress destroys the old ones. When technology replaces the labor in one sector, they get absorbed in another sector. So, it is safe to say the automation will transform job roles in the oil and gas industry and will not drop the workforce requirement. So, if you are looking to make a career in the oil and gas industry, it will be wise to upgrade your skills as per the changing needs of the industry.

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The United States consumed a record amount of renewable energy in 2019

In 2019, consumption of renewable energy in the United States grew for the fourth year in a row, reaching a record 11.5 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu), or 11% of total U.S. energy consumption. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) new U.S. renewable energy consumption by source and sector chart published in the Monthly Energy Review shows how much renewable energy by source is consumed in each sector.

In its Monthly Energy Review, EIA converts sources of energy to common units of heat, called British thermal units (Btu), to compare different types of energy that are more commonly measured in units that are not directly comparable, such as gallons of biofuels compared with kilowatthours of wind energy. EIA uses a fossil fuel equivalence to calculate primary energy consumption of noncombustible renewables such as wind, hydro, solar, and geothermal.

U.S. renewable energy consumption by sector

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

Wind energy in the United States is almost exclusively used by wind-powered turbines to generate electricity in the electric power sector, and it accounted for about 24% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019. Wind surpassed hydroelectricity to become the most-consumed source of renewable energy on an annual basis in 2019.

Wood and waste energy, including wood, wood pellets, and biomass waste from landfills, accounted for about 24% of U.S. renewable energy use in 2019. Industrial, commercial, and electric power facilities use wood and waste as fuel to generate electricity, to produce heat, and to manufacture goods. About 2% of U.S. households used wood as their primary source of heat in 2019.

Hydroelectric power is almost exclusively used by water-powered turbines to generate electricity in the electric power sector and accounted for about 22% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019. U.S. hydropower consumption has remained relatively consistent since the 1960s, but it fluctuates with seasonal rainfall and drought conditions.

Biofuels, including fuel ethanol, biodiesel, and other renewable fuels, accounted for about 20% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019. Biofuels usually are blended with petroleum-based motor gasoline and diesel and are consumed as liquid fuels in automobiles. Industrial consumption of biofuels accounts for about 36% of U.S. biofuel energy consumption.

Solar energy, consumed to generate electricity or directly as heat, accounted for about 9% of U.S. renewable energy consumption in 2019 and had the largest percentage growth among renewable sources in 2019. Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, including rooftop panels, and solar thermal power plants use sunlight to generate electricity. Some residential and commercial buildings heat with solar heating systems.

October, 20 2020
Natural gas generators make up largest share of U.S. electricity generation capacity

operating natural-gas fired electric generating capacity by online year

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Inventory

Based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) annual survey of electric generators, natural gas-fired generators accounted for 43% of operating U.S. electricity generating capacity in 2019. These natural gas-fired generators provided 39% of electricity generation in 2019, more than any other source. Most of the natural gas-fired capacity added in recent decades uses combined-cycle technology, which surpassed coal-fired generators in 2018 to become the technology with the most electricity generating capacity in the United States.

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natural gas-fired electric gnerating capacity by retirement year

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Inventory

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operating natural gas-fired electric generating capacity in selected states

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Annual Electric Generator Inventory

Every U.S. state, except Vermont and Hawaii, has at least one utility-scale natural gas electric power plant. Texas, Florida, and California—the three states with the most electricity consumption in 2019—each have more than 35 gigawatts of natural gas-fired capacity. In many states, the majority of this capacity is combined-cycle technology, but 44% of New York’s natural gas capacity is steam turbines and 67% of Illinois’s natural gas capacity is combustion turbines.

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global energy consumption for power generation

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2020 (IEO2020)

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The following are some key findings of IEO2020:

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IEO2020 builds on the Reference case presented in IEO2019. The models, economic assumptions, and input oil prices from the IEO2019 Reference case largely remained unchanged, but EIA adjusted specific elements or assumptions to explore areas of uncertainty such as the rapid growth of renewable energy.

Because IEO2020 is based on the IEO2019 modeling platform and because it focuses on long-term electricity market dynamics, it does not include the impacts of COVID-19 and related mitigation efforts. The Annual Energy Outlook 2021 (AEO2021) and IEO2021 will both feature analyses of the impact of COVID-19 mitigation efforts on energy markets.

Asia infographic, as described in the article text


Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Outlook 2020 (IEO2020)
Note: Click to enlarge.

With the IEO2020 release, EIA is publishing new Plain Language documentation of EIA’s World Energy Projection System (WEPS), the modeling system that EIA uses to produce IEO projections. EIA’s new Handbook of Energy Modeling Methods includes sections on most WEPS components, and EIA will release more sections in the coming months.

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