ESP Optimisation Opportunities?

This data-file calculates the financial and carbon costs of running electric submersible pumps (ESPs) at oilfields, as a function of half-a-dozen input variables. This matters with ESPs fitted on 15-20% of the world’s c1M oil wells.

Opportunities to optimise: CO2 intensities can be lowered 25% by switching diesel-powered ESPs to natural gas, and theoretically by 100% by switching to renewables. Associated kg/boe and cost savings are tabulated in the data-file.

Leading Majors and new technology companies are also pioneering means to improve ESP efficiency. We tabulate our top examples in the data-file. Initiatives from Aramco and Equinor screen as most impressive.

Global Flaring Intensity by Country

This data-file tabulates global flaring intensity in 16 countries of interest: in absolute terms (bcm per year), per barrel of oil production (mcf/bbl) and as a contribution to CO2 emissions (kg/boe).

Flaring intensity has reduced by c20% in the past quarter-century, from 0.25mcf/bbl and 12.5kg of CO2/bbl in the early 1990s to 0.2mcf/bbl and 10kg/bbl today. However, total flaring nevertheless increased by c13% in absolute terms, accounting for 350MTpa of global CO2 emissions. This is 1/6th of total oil industry CO2.

Industry leaders, with the lowest flaring include Saudi Arabia and the US. Laggards include West Africa, North Africa, Iran/Iraq and Venezuela (which has shown the worst deterioration in the database, since the late 1990s).

LNG’s positive role in reducing flaring stands out from the data. LNG exports were 94% correlated with Nigeria’s flaring reduction since NLNG started up in 1999. Angola has also reduced flaring by 80% since 1998, with Angola LNG “starting up” in 2013. Finally, Equatorial Guinea now has 80% lower flaring than its neighbor, Gabon, since starting up EGLNG in 2007.

Breakdown of global CO2 emissions

This data-file breaks down global CO2 emissions into 35 distinct categories, based on prior publications, our own models and calculations.

The long tail illustrates the complexity of decarbonisation. The largest single component of global emissions is passenger vehicles, but this comprises just c14% of the total CO2e.

A further 30 line-items all account for at least 1% of the world’s total emissions including electricity, heating, cement, metals, plastics, food, fertilizers, paper, manufacturing, livestock, agriculture, military, oil refining, fossil fuel production and landfill.


The Ascent of Small Scale LNG?

Large LNG projects make large headlines. But we are excited by the ascent of smaller-scale LNG. At <1MTpa each, these facilities can be harder to track, which is the objective of this data-file.

There is currently c13MTpa of small-scale LNG liquefaction capacity online, across 70 facilities, of which c50 are in China and c10 in the US. A further c12MTpa pipeline is in progress, for a 100% increase.

We estimate small-scale LNG supplied c0.2MTpa of shipping fuel in 2017, compared to c260MT of total liquid shipping fuels. Dedicated LNG shipping fuels capacity should rise 20x, to 4MTpa by the end of 2021; and total shipping fuels could reach 40MTpa by 2040.

Exciting projects are currently ramping up: in Russia, Novatek’s Vyotsk (1.1MTpa) and Gazprom’s Portovaya are both devoted to Baltic shipping fuels (1.5MTpa) and sourced from the same input gas as Nord Stream; followed in the US Gulf, by Florida’s Eagle LNG (0.9MTpa) and in Louisiana.

Small-scale LNG growth is particularly exciting around European markets, where by 2022 there will be 5x more port-side facilities than a decade prior.

For all the underlying data, please download this data-file. For our research on this theme, please see the note, ‘LNG in transport: scaling up by scaling down’.

Production profiles: renewables vs oil and gas?

Wind, solar, oil and gas are all capable of supplying comparable energy at comparable prices: 5c/kWh wind and solar is economically competitive with c$50 oil and $6/mcf gas, over a 30-year project-cycle.

But production profiles matter. Oil and gas assets generate 2-3x more energy than renewables in early years; and 50-80% less energy in later years. So dollars invested in oil and gas go 2-3x further in the short-run. To meet the same initial demand from renewables, one must currently spend 2-3x more.

Further renewables deflation of c50-70% is required before the world can truly “re-allocate” capital from fossil fuels to renewables without causing near-term shortages. In the mean time, it is necessary to attract adequate capital for both resource types.

This short data-file underpins the chart and considerations discussed above.

Biofuel technologies: an overview?

This data-file provides an overview of the 2.6Mbpd global biofuels industry, across its seven main components: corn ethanol, sugarcane ethanol, vegetable oils, palm oil, waste oils (renewable diesel), cellulosic biomass and algal biofuels.

For each biofuel technology, we describe the production process, advantages and drawbacks; plus we quantify  the market size, typical costs, CO2 intensities and yields per acre.

While biofuels can be lower carbon than fossil fuels, they are not zero-carbon, hence continued progress is needed to improve both their economics and their process-efficiencies.

Value in Use: CO2 intensities of household items?

We estimate costs and carbon intensities per use for twenty low-utilisation household objects: the average is $13 per use and 1.3kg of CO2, respectively. Both are high numbers.

The biggest determinant is the number of uses per item.  We fear that once purchased by a consumer, the average item on our list will be used just c20 times in its entire lifetime.

More extensive “sharing” will be enabled by drone delivery technologies, potentially saving $150bn of annual sales and 15MTpa of CO2 emissions across these 20 items items alone. Across the entire US economy the savings could reach $1trn and 100MT per year.

Distribution Costs: Ships, Trucks, Trains and Delivery Vans?

This data-file breaks down the financial and carbon costs associated with a typical US consumer’s purchasing habits. It covers container-ships, trucks, rail freight, cars and last-mile delivery vans; based on the ton-miles associated with each vehicle and its fuel economy.

We estimate the distribution chain for the typical US consumer costs 1.5bbls of fuel, 600kg of CO2 and $1,000 per annum.

The costs will increase 20-40% in the next decade, as the share of online retail doubles to c20%. New technologies are needed in last-mile delivery.

Please download the model to for a full breakdown of the data, and its sensitivity to oil prices, consumption patterns, international trade and exciting new delivery technologies.

Gas industry CO2 per barrel?

We have constructed a simple model to estimate the CO2 emissions of commercialising a gas resource, as a function of eight input variables: such as production techniques, methane leakage, sour gas processing, LNG liquefaction, LNG tanker distances and pipeline distances.

We estimate energy return on energy invested is c25-30x across piped gas resources and c15x across LNG resources, compared with c7-10x for oil. This supports the rationale for oil-to-gas switching, as commercialising gas will likely emit 50-75% lower CO2 per boe.

Different resources are compared using our methodology. The lowest CO2 profile is seen for well-managed piped gas (e.g., Norway to Europe).

Download the model and you can quickly compute approximate CO2 emissions for other resources.

Next-generation nuclear: the cutting edge?

This data-file screens 15 companies at the cutting edge of nuclear technology, to assess whether fission or fusion breakthroughs can realistically be factored into long-run forecasts of energy markets or the energy transition.

Our conclusion is “not yet”. Despite many signs of exciting progress, the average technical readiness in our sample is TRL 4 (testing components). Four companies are working to lab-scale prototypes. Energy gains and system stability remain key challenges.

The database summarises each company, including its technology, location, employee count, notable backers and technical technical readiness. Our notes also cover expected costs or timings, where disclosed.