Domain stalwarts share insights on sustainable solutions for upstream sector at ONGC webinar

Leading experts from the petroleum ministry, industry and academia shared insightful deliberations on pathways to attain a sustainable future for the upstream petroleum industry in India at ONGC webinar held on 7 May 2021. The webinar on “Sustainable Solutions for Upstream Petroleum Industry” was organized by the Energy Maharatna as a part of the celebrations of the nation’s 75 years of independence – Azadi ki Amrut Mahotsav.

Domain experts sharing their insights on sustainable solutions for upstream petroleum industry
Domain experts sharing their insights on sustainable solutions for upstream petroleum industry

Delivering the keynote address, Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor noted that the upstream industry is certain to witness substantial growth in the coming years. “If we look at the total energy requirement of the country or per capita consumption, there will be an increase in the demand as we currently have one of the lowest per capita consumption of energy,” said Mr Kapoor.

Stating that India is importing 84% crude oil and over 50% of natural gas at present, the Petroleum Secretary exhorted that to reduce import, the industry should have a target to grow its oil production by 6-7 times and double the production of natural gas. He pointed out that the expectations from the upstream sector will keep increasing with the growing energy demand and the industry has a major role to play in the coming years.

Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor delivering the keynote address
Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor delivering the keynote address

However, Mr Kapoor said that while the industry is concentrating on its primary role of exploration and production of oil & gas, it should also look for sustainable sources from within the country and focus on reducing its carbon footprint. He noted that while looking for sustainable solutions, organizations should have deadlines by which it will be completely sustainable and carbon neutral. “We need organizations, both government and private, to work out their plans and announce a date by which they will entirely carbon neutral. This will be a major positive approach towards attaining a sustainable future for the industry,” added Mr Kapoor.

He noted that, even if it might take some time, renewables are the future of the energy sector and the upstream petroleum industry should be part of the transition. “We should start understanding how to use newer technologies, economics and available resources to our advantage. Bio-fuel, bio-diesel, ethanol-blended petrol, etc. are the areas where we can play a major role in,” said Mr Kapoor.

ONGC CMD Subhash Kumar said that this is high time to introspect for the future. He asserted that ONGC is working in a sustainable manner and is relentlessly working towards reducing carbon emission. He mentioned that in the last five years, the energy major has reduced its carbon footprint by 12%.

Mentioning that ONGC is in process of creating gas vertical, Mr Kumar cited ONGC Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IOCL, for CO2 based Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) by injecting CO2 captured from IOCL’s Koyali refinery. He further mentioned the recent monetization of the Bengal Basin, which is an example of the fastest conversion of a Category II Basin to Category I Basin.

ONGC CMD Subhash Kumar delivering the welcome address
ONGC CMD Subhash Kumar delivering the welcome address

Mr Kumar noted that India has vast resources, both conventional and unconventional and is among one of the countries where all resources of energy can co-exist and keep growing. He lauded the several reforms brought forth by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and mentioned that the Directorate of Hydrocarbons playing the role of a facilitator is a huge transformation. Mr Kumar further asserted that ONGC is always vocal for partnership and collaboration.

The webinar comprised of an informative panel discussion, in which experts from across the industry and academia shared valuable inputs on the challenges ahead for the upstream sector and sustainable solutions to sail through them. The discussion was joined by Prof of Geology, Director of IsoBioGem Lab, University Of West Virginia USA Dr Shikha Sharma, Former Director of IIT Kharagpur Prof P P Chakrabarti, Asst Professor of Presidency University Kolkata Dr Supriyo Kumar Das, Director General of ONGC Energy Center Dr Sanjeev Katti, Associate Professor of IITISM Dhanbad Dr Rajeev Upadhyay, ED - Asset Manager of ONGC Mehsana O N Gyani and Professor & HOD of Department of Geology & Geophysics at IIT Kharagpur Dr Saibal Gupta.

Speaking on the Quest for Sustainable Energy, Prof of Geology, Director of IsoBioGem Lab, University Of West Virginia USA Dr Shikha Sharma shared an outlook on the global primary energy consumption by various energy sources. Dr Sharma stated that by 2050 renewable energy will take over other sources of energy like petroleum, liquid natural gas, coal, nuclear, etc. She noted that sustainable energy can be attained through lower carbon footprint, low environmental impacts and economic viability.

Prof of Geology, Director of IsoBioGem Lab, University of West Virginia USA Dr Shikha Sharma
Prof of Geology, Director of IsoBioGem Lab, University of West Virginia USA Dr Shikha Sharma

Dr Sharma spoke on the reduction of carbon footprints of the fossil powered power plants. She mentioned that post-combustion of CO2 capture from fossil fired power plants via use of a liquid solvent or a solid sorbent is a promising option for reducing CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

Speaking on the key challenge and opportunities for the oil & gas industry, Dr Sharma exhorted organizations to reduce environmental impacts, decrease freshwater usage and eliminate venting and flaring of gases. She noted that investment in advanced big data analysis will increase production efficiency, reduce waste and accidents. Dr Sharma rooted for investments in renewables, CO2 sequestration, hydrogen storage, critical mineral technologies, etc. She further pointed out that partnership among academia, federal agencies and industry is the key for developing novel and commercially successful technologies.

Former Director of IIT Kharagpur Prof P P Chakrabarti elaborated on artificial intelligence driven sustainable exploration and production. He spoke extensively on the three major areas of technologies available at the present time – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning. He explained how AI, ML, Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) and Big Data has been transforming domains by transforming heterogeneous data to insights and knowledge, generating accurate analysis, enabling automated learning and reasoning without explicit programming, replacing, co-working with humans on mundane, risky tasks, etc.

Former Director of IIT Kharagpur Prof P P Chakrabarti
Former Director of IIT Kharagpur Prof P P Chakrabarti

Speaking on heterogeneous data assimilation, Prof Chakrabarti explained how Well Data, Seismic Data, Reservoir Engineering Data and Geological knowledge can integrate to form data assimilation. He noted that the upstream industry has huge prospective to grow sustainably with Artificial Intelligence. He reiterated that the effective use of AI, ML can lead to sustainably profitable outcomes in petroleum energy with improved safety.

Speaking on “Exploring Category-II and Category-III Basins – Unconventional Approach”, Asst Professor of Presidency University Kolkata Dr Supriyo Kumar Das noted that while the Category I Basins comprise of 85% of total hydrocarbon resources, Category II and III basins share 9% and 6 %, respectively. He said that its time to explore and invest in Category II and III basins, which are less or poorly explored as yet. However, Dr Das noted that this will be technologically demanding, with high risk and low returns.

Presenting the recent discovery of the Bengal Basin, Dr Das spoke in details on Eocene-Oligocene petroleum system in Bengal Basin, biogenic methane in the basin, immature basin sediments, methane production in deep Bengal Basin sediments, source and depositional setting of Bengal Basin sediments, biogenic methane in Bengal Basin Fan Sediments, etc.

Asst Professor of Presidency University Kolkata Dr Supriyo Kumar Das
Asst Professor of Presidency University Kolkata Dr Supriyo Kumar Das

Dr Das stated that way forward biogenic gas should be given importance in hydrocarbon exploration in Category II and III Basins. He said one or two deeper wells should be drilled in unexplored basins for acquisition of geochemical data and understanding stratigraphy. He exhorted industry leaders to encourage and strengthen collaborative academic researches and mentioned that there should be free access of E&P data bank in National Data Repository (NDR) for interested Indian educational institutes.

Associate Professor of IITISM Dhanbad Dr Rajeev Upadhyay spoke on the key challenges and sustainable solutions for Coalbed Methane in the Indian scenario. He presented in detail on why there should be focus on Coalbed Methane, data on CBM resources, CBM Gas-in-place, CBM production in India, typical production profile of CBM well, etc.

Associate Professor of IITISM Dhanbad Dr Rajeev Upadhyay
Associate Professor of IITISM Dhanbad Dr Rajeev Upadhyay

Speaking on key challenges, Dr Upadhyay classified the challenges into broader areas like exploration and planning challenges, reservoir evaluation challenges, drilling and completion challenges, production challenges and environmental challenges. While explaining the challenges in each area in detail, Dr Upadhyay provided possible sustainable solutions to overcome them. Key sustainable solutions suggested by Dr Upadhyay include requirements of robust reservoir characterization study, rigorous uncertainty study and analysis, application of AI, development of systematic learning curve mechanism, reservoir management plan and uncertainty reduction plan, quantification of geomechanical parameters, rigorous well by well production performance analysis, R&D on nano materials/absorbents.

He noted that in coming years there should be formation of comprehensive CBM policy, reassessment of CBM blocks, auctioning of new CBM blocks through HELP, formulation of a separate pricing and marketing mechanism for CBM, timely grant of clearance by state government, enhanced financial subsidies in CBM operators and intensified CBM technology research and development.

Presenting the industry perspective on Application of Upstream Domain Expertise and Core Strengths in the Development of Green and Clean Energy, Director General of ONGC Energy Center Dr Sanjeev Katti noted that the ONGC Energy Center (OEC) has been developed to look beyond hydrocarbon. He cited the example of signing of MoU between OEC and UT Administration of Ladakh and Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) for establishing India’s maiden Geothermal Field Development Project in Ladakh. He pointed out that it was the first step towards achieving the goal of creating carbon neutral Ladakh and putting India on the Geothermal map of the world to generate geothermal power.

Director General of ONGC Energy Center Dr Sanjeev Katti
Director General of ONGC Energy Center Dr Sanjeev Katti

Mr Das spoke extensively on the dimensions of the Ladakh Geothermal project, Geothermal utilization, roadmap of geothermal field development project in Ladakh and how geothermal can be the game changer in Ladakh. Dr Katti also spoke on biotechnology, hydrogen production paths, thermochemical hydrogen generation, OEC approach, etc.

ED - Asset Manager of ONGC Mehsana O N Gyani deliberated on the role of IOR-EOR for oil & gas production sustenance in Indian perspective. Mr Gyani presented key data on the resources available, the transformative policy inputs since 2014, optimization exercise of IOR, Development strategies and adoption of new technologies at major oil fields in ONGC Mumbai High, post ER policies, etc.

ED - Asset Manager of ONGC Mehsana O N Gyani
ED - Asset Manager of ONGC Mehsana O N Gyani

Mr Gyani noted that going forward there should be focus on optimization through data analytics, long lead time in EOR, implementation of EOR in offshore, life extension of facilities, monetization of HP-HT tight reservoirs, application of nanotechnologies and produced water management. He mentioned that the key imperatives are data acquisition and integration, reservoir management, knowledge management, transformative policy changes and collaborative environment to develop favorable ecosystem.

Professor & HOD of Department of Geology & Geophysics at IIT Kharagpur Dr Saibal Gupta spoke on the need for reorientation of Earth Science graduate education in the evolving energy scenario in India. Dr Gupta spoke on the transformation from uni-dimensional to multidimensional integration of course subjects. He said, “Depth subjects in degree courses should be juxtaposed with breadth subjects so that any lateral movement later in academic or professional career can happen smoothly.”

Professor & HOD of Department of Geology & Geophysics at IIT Kharagpur Dr Saibal Gupta
Professor & HOD of Department of Geology & Geophysics at IIT Kharagpur Dr Saibal Gupta

He presented an outlook on the energy consumption vs energy production in the Indian scenario, problems of basic degrees oriented towards specific industries, philosophy of degree courses, degree programs at IIT Kharagpur, course components in the department of geophysics and geology, ways to meet industry needs, trans disciplinary programs, alternate areas in which courses can prepare Earth Science students, etc.

ONGC Director (Exploration) R K Srivastava delivering the Vote of Thanks
ONGC Director (Exploration) R K Srivastava delivering the Vote of Thanks

Delivering the Vote of Thanks, ONGC Director (Exploration) R K Srivastva asserted that ONGC is building cost-effective and sustainable solutions from exploration and production scenario, with reduced carbon emission. He noted that the target of eliminating carbon emission can be met by collaborative efforts and the use of high-end technologies.