Documentary: Oil and gas companies are facing major technological disruption

Statoil’s Sleipner field (Image source: Statoil)

The Economist Films, part of the renowned magazine The Economist, has produced a documentary investigating how new technologies and renewables are disrupting the fossil fuel industry, and what the oil industry is doing in response.

With permission from The Economist, Offshore Energy Today is sharing the full documentary below, a part of series named “The Disrupters.”

Pressure to reduce carbon emissions is putting the future of fossil fuel giants in jeopardy. The documentary explores how the five trillion dollar fossil fuel industry is looking at alternative, sustainable ways of producing power, in the wake of the recent Paris Climate deal, signed in December 2015 by 195 nations, pledging to tackle the harmful carbon dioxide emissions.

Statoil, Norway’s largest oil company, has been featured as a prime example of how an oil company can do much to cut its carbon footprint.

At one of its offshore platforms on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, the Sleipner, named after an eight-legged horse in Norse mythology, Statoil is producing gas.

However, the company is doing so in a sustainable way, by using technology to remove the CO2 from the gas produced. The carbon dioxide from the platform, located some 250 kilometers west of Stavanger, Norway, is then pumped under ground, making Statoil’s operations there less carbon intensive. While Odin himself declared Sleipnir, or Sleipner, “the world’s best horse,” according to the documentary, Statoil’s Sleipner is the world’s first offshore carbon capture and storage plant.


For those more into alternative energy, the documentary also discusses renewables, such as biofuels, solar and wind.

One village in Germany produces five times more electricity from renewables than it needs using new technologies. A local company has developed storage systems for the generated power, at the same time enabling the residents to share the extra energy among themselves. Struck by new behavior patterns among these ‘disruptive’ electricity consumers, a German utility is reinventing itself, spinning off fossil fuels business and focusing capital expenditure on renewables.

Furthermore, one can see how an oil company is embracing the change by using its offshore oil and gas expertise do develop a unique, floating wind turbine, which could in turn disrupt the conventional offshore wind industry.

Namely, this turbine, to be deployed offshore Scotland in 2017, can be deployed anywhere in the world, regardless of the water depth, something that’s been inconceivable for the offshore wind industry before.

As mentioned earlier, this is only a part of The Economist Films series, which aims to identify industries confronted with an accelerated pace of change, obsolescence and renewal as entire companies are facing unprecedented challenges. Disrupters series is directed by Economist Films director Sarah MacFarlane.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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