With the demand for oil as high as ever and the threat of scarcity growing, it is crucial that oilfield equipment and other parts of the refinement process are optimised for efficiency and thoroughness to get the most potential fuel possible out of every well. Due to the demand for greater efficiency in oil extracting equipment, the oil industry has had to get innovative to maintain consistent demand and quality while minimising the ecological impact of drilling, refining, and shipment of petroleum and its by-products.
One prominent example of creativity and technological advancement on the oilfield is the use of digital technology. This allows for experts to evaluate oilfields in real time without having to be present at the site so long as the appropriate data is available. This, coupled with programs to monitor such things as the shutdown mechanism on safety valves remotely, is convenient, efficient, and encourages communication between on-site supervisors and experts around the globe on the production of oil and it how it can be done more efficiently. Other digital technologies, such as time-lapse seismic applications, allow scientists to examine oil reservoirs and better determine drainage rates as well as formulate more accurate management plans by providing visual representations of data collected from oilfields.
Another interesting development in the fuel industry is the use of otherwise unusual resources to provide energy. Shale gas in particular is proving to be especially promising. While shale has been known the have the hydrocarbons necessary for fuel development for decades, extracting it for use has proven to be costly until fairly recently. However, with some minor advancements in relevant technologies (i.e. geosteering, logging- and measurement-while-drilling appliances, and ‘flex’ rigs), extracting it has become much less complicated and has opened up myriad unforeseen opportunities in the natural gas industry that may prove beneficial for oil, as well.
Not only has the demand for oil called for more efficient extracting equipment, but the materials used for transportation, as well. For example, pipelines - by far the largest and most convenient form of land transport for crude oil - often use plastic thread protectors as secure enclosures. This way, materials can be reused and recycled as needed to more readily meet global oil needs as the demand shifts. While their metal counterparts are also very secure, the cost of manufacture, the potential carbon footprint, and the lack of flexibility in recycling can all be very deterring - especially when faced with the overall malleability of plastic thread protectors.
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the future of oilfield equipment, but even these couple of examples show just how self-aware and ready to adapt the oil industry has become, especially in recent years, in light of the effects of rapid climate change. The digitisation of data gleaned from excavations allows for accurate analysis by experts all over the globe, as well as more efficient supervision and management. Advancements in the natural gas industry are paving the way to more efficient digging for all fuel industries, and the promotion of reusable resources and minimising the carbon footprint of both oil drilling and transportation technologies may well put the Earth back on track to recovering from significant ecological damage. In short, the future for oil is promising - so long as humanity is determined to innovate.