Decarbonisation is not deterring the next generation of oil and gas professionals, an energy services giant says.
The needs of various sectors are intersecting to grow the battery minerals supply chain and develop future products such as green steel, according to Wood Group Plc CEO Ken Gilmartin.
“We have no problems attracting talent,” Mr Gilmartin told AAP during a recent visit to Australia.
“Think of young engineering graduates, young scientists, data analysts … they’re attracted to Wood because of the complexity of the work that we do,” he said.
Mr Gilmartin said their work means net zero gets achieved while energy security is maintained.
As well, the minerals “supercycle” remains intact with more project activity in the past three months, after inflation caused headwinds in the back end of 2022 and in early 2023.
And there’s definitely more value to be gained for Australia in doing more processing onshore than just shipping raw materials, Mr Gilmartin added.
Australia is investing more than $40 billion to become a renewable energy superpower, which includes an ongoing role for gas.
“New industries that are central to the net-zero transformation, such as green metals and critical minerals, present new opportunities to add value and diversify,”  according to Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ employment white paper released last week.
The document listed clean energy, digitalisation and new industries as federal priorities, amongst others.
“We have a chance to play in the energy transition both from the energy side and the resources side,” Wood Asia-Pacific president of operations Ralph Ellis told AAP.
Wood says producers are squeezing production out of existing oil and gas and are looking at reducing the carbon intensity of existing plants, in Australia, Europe and North America.
Artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics are being used in a tool called maintAI to monitor and collect operational and emissions information from fields, including flaring and methane leaks.
Mr Ellis said that pool of data can be used to improve operations and safety, sometimes without needing to reconfigure production.
“We’re having huge success in working with customers when we can take that artificial intelligence and apply it to noise, to maintenance and to other parts of our business,” he said.
Wood has more than 2100 employees in Australia, with offices in Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane, and generates approximately $635 million of revenue here.
Clients include international critical minerals leader Albemarle as well as fossil fuel firms Woodside, Santos, Beach Energy, Chevron, and ExxonMobil.
Mr Ellis said Chevron has a massive portfolio of projects to optimise and expand its capacity over the next three years, while Woodside is investing in the Scarborough gas project.
Woodside says the LNG to be exported from Scarborough off the north-west coast of Western Australia will replace coal use, particularly for North Asia customers, and back up renewable energy sources.
But critics say Australia’s biggest gas project in a decade is a “methane bomb” and will drive climate change at the rate of 15 coal-fired plants running at full tilt.
Elsewhere, Santos is adjusting the Moomba gas facility 800km north of Adelaide in the Strzelecki desert to become a carbon capture and storage (CCS) hub.
Japan’s Inpex is working with the Northern Territory government and Wood on a CCS hub that will run in parallel with gas production.
“Yes we’re looking at energy transition but it’s going to take a period of time to get there,” Mr Gilmartin said.
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