Investment in the international gas and LNG industry could reach a dizzying $9 trillion over the next two decades. Most of this will be earmarked for the major new infrastructure and technology that will be required to support a huge anticipated surge in demand.
The increasing connectivity of online devices is enabling better decision-making, creating new ways to ensure safer and more efficient operations, while bringing key information from all over the industry directly to the people who require it most, particularly those in the field.
The industrial internet of things (IIOT) is driving innovations and acquisitions in the OEM market; it brings a host of new opportunities for suppliers of equipment to operators.
One example of this is the partnership formed between GE and Technip, which joined forces in 2016 to explore digital options for liquefied natural gas (LNG). The two companies worked together to evaluate the application of digital technology for the engineering, construction, commissioning, start-up and operation of LNG facilities. The idea was that everything would encompass Technip and GE's expertise, and be powered by the latter's Predix cloud-based operating system. By integrating their processes and design tools with equipment advanced control systems into a common digital platform, the partnership provides clients with credible, affordable and predictable technology.
Health and safety continues to be a vital priority for the oil and gas sector, which continues to invest huge sums of money in the prevention, detection and repair of assets to maintain the high industry standards.
A new model of safety in the LNG industry came to the fore in January 2017, when the Dunkerque LNG terminal in France started commercial operations.
Borrowing from established technology tested in other facilities and designed to reduce risk, the large-scale facility accounts for more than 20% of France's demand for natural gas.
An expert team was put together for the project in which the safety and security of people and assets was regarded as an absolute; these objectives were incorporated into the initial design of the terminal.
The design of bespoke equipment was also considered, including the upper platform's jetty, pipeways, fixed and travelling cranes, and the tank platform. The scope of work also included the implementation of new safety features. These included collected safety valves, LNG collection channels, automatic actions and frangible domes in case of tanks overfilling.
Innovations have been accelerated by the recent surge of gas projects and the urgency to make the industry as cost-effective and productive as possible.
New technology has emerged in drilling, completions and production for unconventional and conventional resources, reducing the cost of natural gas production.
New technology can not only support the growth in gas demand but will also enhance processes and bring benefits including reduced leakage, higher efficiency and a smaller carbon footprint.
A case in point is the automatic monitoring of steam traps. This has the potential to have a significant impact on natural gas use, efficiency and emissions.
Steam traps are used by most industrial equipment, facilities, and devices with as many as 500 sometimes installed on a single site. The constant movement of valves in a steam trap means that they require frequent servicing to prevent failure.
The US Department of Energy, estimates that 15-25% of steam trap installations are leaking, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars to be wasted every year, on every site.
With automatic monitoring, leaking traps are detected quickly, minimising steam loss and improving energy efficiency, and reducing carbon footprint.
Collectively, innovations in equipment can improve gas use in the industrial sector, making it more efficient and less carbon-intensive.
Topics around this, including emerging technology and HSSE, will be discussed at the technical streams at the Gastech 2018 conference on 17-20 September at the Fira Gran Via, Barcelona.
The gas, LNG and energy event navigates the next steps for the industry, with discussion and debate around advances in technology, efficiency and market fluidity, and the competitiveness of natural gas.
The technology to be discussed during the technical sessions will include gas processing; advances in health, safety, security and environment and operations; and maintenance and integrity management.
The event will be spread over 50,000m² of exhibition space, and will welcome more than 700 international, regional and local exhibitors, as well as over 30,000 professionals from across the global gas, LNG and energy industries. More than 3,500 delegates and 1,200 ministers, government officials, presidents, managing directors, CEOs and chairmen will hear from 350 senior speakers from across all sectors of the industry.
Gastech will be co-located with the Global Power & Energy Exhibition (GPEX). Building a resilient and integrated energy market across Europe and beyond is a priority for energy producers and distributors.
Natural gas and renewable energy sources will be the winners in power generation, and this co-location will bring the two communities together under one roof to enhance dialogue and promote collaborative opportunities across the value chain.
Gastech 2018 will explore the new demand centres for gas, the challenges in the gas sector in Spain, and many other issues, including the burgeoning trading sector, project financing, the interplay between gas and renewable energy in power generation, project development, managing emissions and project financial risk management.
The event will also feature extended ministerial and global business leader dialogue; the Diversity in Energy programme; Young Gastech; the Asia market development forum; a closed-door VIP programme, and the LNG procurement and trading forum. The programme reflects the major strategic and technological developments taking place in the industry, and will be developed in consultation with Gastech's governing body, which comprises around 70 industry professionals representing the global gas and LNG supply chains; over 250 presentations will be tailored to the commercial and technical communities.
Central to the debate will be the future role of gas in the global energy mix as countries move to honour the commitments made in the Paris Agreement, and in the context of rapidly evolving technology.