Data Analytics: Shaping the Future of Energy

Despite continued excitement regarding progress around harnessing renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, technological innovations are also helping oil and gas refiners discover new ways of mining deposits that until recently weren’t possible.

shaping futureFor instance, the use of 3D seismic data testing techniques and other advanced technologies has enabled Noble Energy to discover an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea 90 miles west of Haifa, Israel.

The discovery, made in 2009, has led Israel to begin pumping gas from a rig in the offshore Tamar field to a processing plant in Ashdod.

The amount of natural gas, though small in comparison to gas-rich nations such as Russia, Qatar, and Iran, is nonetheless expected to provide Israel with enough alternative fuel to power the country for decades.

Discoveries like the one made by Noble Energy are providing energy-dependent nations such as Israel a measure of self-reliance.

In Japan, which for years has relied on foreign energy sources, a research team has extracted natural gas from offshore methane hydrate, the first recorded instance of such an achievement. Previously, Japanese and other companies have extracted methane gas from onshore hydrate reserves.

Now, the Japanese research team, which drilled 330 meters into the sea floor at a depth of about 1,000 meters, has discovered a natural gas deposit that’s believed to hold 1.1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, or the equivalent of 11 years worth of liquefied natural gas imports.

And it’s thanks to data analytics that legacy energy companies and emerging entrants are finding new sources of energy.

Companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, BP, and Chevron are utilizing energy analytics and other technologies to locate and drill for oil in places that have been previously inaccessible. Shell, for instance, is using a drill ship called The Noble Bully 1 that’s two football fields long and is able to drill up to 40,000 feet beneath the floor of the sea.

Shell, BP, and Chevron are using a mix of analytics and imaging technologies to map out and extract previously uncharted oil and gas fields that are locked in shale and tight rock formations deep beneath the ocean’s floor, according to The Wall St. Journal.

Using analytics, researchers and scientists are also identifying new renewable energy sources that may eventually supplant fossil fuels. For example, National ICT Australia and the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy have teamed with other partners to use big data and analytics to find geothermal energy sources deep beneath the earth’s surface.

Using traditional means to locate suitable hot rocks that can emit geothermal energy is a manual and expensive effort. The use of data analytics and geothermal sensor data sets offers an alternative to expensive drilling and excavating by identifying sources of geothermal energy deep below the earth’s surface in a much more cost-effective manner.

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