Case Studies

What Has Petroleum Done For Me This Morning?

Introduction

Over Canadian Discovery’s 30+ year history, the energy industry has seen many cycles of commodity prices, government policies and worldwide perceptions of petroleum and natural gas.

Where are Petroleum’s Benefits?

Since the inception of the industry in the 1850s, the benefits that affordable and abundant petroleum products have brought to the lives of billions—with a B—of people around the world are incalculable. Petroleum has touched and improved the lives of almost all people in the world.

Yet the industry finds itself as the dominant target (or punching bag) for anti-development and green groups that place all the ills of the world at its feet. The characterization of our industry solely by what comes out of the tail pipes of vehicles, is misleading in the extreme. When you wake up in the morning, the clock radio or iPod dock that rouses you has a substantial petroleum component: the hard plastic shell, the soft plastic coating the wiring, the circuitboards, the speakers and so on. The copper wires that brought the electricity to the outlet were excavated with diesel-fuelled equipment, smelted with natural gas and insulated with plastic, and quite possibly, the electricity was generated from natural gas. The list goes on to the coffee maker that brews your first cup, the television or radio that gets you the weather report, the buttons on your blouse or shirt, the toothbrush and the tooth paste tube, therazor, the deodorant and its container. All of this before you’ve even left your bedroom or home. Petroleum products have helped you start your day.

Petroleum contributes to everything from the filling in car seats, bus seats or office chairs—there’s not enough horses in the world to substitute horse hair for expanded polyurethane foam, the development and production of medicines,affordable food produced efficiently and transported quickly from large farms, and MRI machines.

The Innovations

The energy industry has been and continues to be a leading innovator including:

  • The development of precise steering control and continuous communication has made horizontal drilling and SAGD possible
  • PDC drill bits with no moving parts have drastically reduced well drilling times
  • The adaptation of hydraulic fracturing to horizontal wells has unlocked vast resources from unconventional reservoirs(fraccing as a well stimulation technique was originally developed in 1949 and used extensively since in conventional wells)
  • Smart pipeline pigs precisely inspect operating pipelines from the inside out
  • Deep water drilling has allowed resources of the continental shelfs to be developed at ever greater depths; and the list goes on.

Risk takers, innovators and technology adopters (both by design and by accident)have been and will continue to be, part of our industry. As members of the oil and gas community, individually and collectively we need to be better at extolling the benefits, both great and small, that petroleum has brought to the world. 

This blog takes up some of the themes laid out by the Hon. Brad Wall, former Premier, Province of Saskatchewan to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, March 13, 2018 and by Mr. Jay Ottoson, President, SM Energy Company to the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, May 28, 2016.

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