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P&F Advisory Committee To Produce Green Paper Envisioning Future of Discipline

The Projects and Facilities Advisory Committee proposes a green paper that will investigate the future state of production, operations, facility design, and construction or decommissioning operations in the decade from 2025 to 2035.

New paper to explore the future state of operations, facilities design among other things.
SOURCE: ThomasVogel/Getty Images/iStockphoto

We all know that the energy industry is entering a period of substantial change driven by technology, environmental policy, market demand forces, and stakeholder sentiments. So, the Production and Facilities (P&F) Advisory Committee proposes to produce a green paper that will investigate the future state of production, operations, facility design, and construction or decommissioning operations in the decade of change from 2025 to 2035. Ultimately, we envision that this green paper will prove valuable in developing recommendations to modify SPE professional development plans and services and to inform those working on future updates to the SPE strategic plan for meeting the mission and vision.

The broad objects of this initiative are to try to envision the way in which our roles and responsibilities are likely to change between 2025 and 2035, providing members of the community and industry stakeholders with

• Background information fueling the discussions regarding adjustments in policies and practices to meet the future needs of the industry.

• A vision of the skills that will be needed to excel in this environment.

• Provide members of the P&F community with a roadmap for competency development and to make recommendations to the SPE Board’s Committees and staff regarding revisions to competency development plans and SPE training services.

During the preliminary discussions, the working group identified the following five major themes to be explored in the green paper.

- Market transition associated with decarbonization and ongoing efforts to reduce emissions

- Water stewardship

- Advancing automation, digitalization, and electrification

- Mitigation of the predicted risks from climate change on sea levels and extreme weather patterns

- Facility repurposing, rehabilitation or decommissioning and associated well abandonments

The objective is to complete the green paper in March 2022 and provide an interim report to the SPE at the Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in September 2021.

The work will be organized into the following sequential stages.

Phase 1. Definition of major changes

During the first phase, the teams will attempt to summarize expectations relating to:

1. Climate change projections such as sea level rise and extreme weather patterns through to 2050, based on the research findings of operating and service companies, government and nongovernment organizations, academic studies, and any other relevant sources of information.

2. Changes in government policy and expectations associated with our social license to operate through to 2035, recognizing that these may vary significantly between regions.

3. Changes in market demand for refined products, petrochemicals, and blue-hydrogen feedstocks and natural gas, as well as energy transportation methods and delivery or conversion points.

4. Ongoing technology developments and how these may impact the design and construction of future energy facilities and production operations.

The plan is to complete Phase 1 of the study by mid-May 2021.

Phase 2. Evaluation of major changes

The second phase will evaluate the impact of these change drivers on major subsets of the industry.

• Existing facilities, EOR and LNG projects, greenfield developments, brownfield rehabilitation or carbon capture, utilization & storage (CCUS) projects and ongoing facility decommissioning programs

• Emerging facility concepts, product lines and energy transport systems; new enhanced geothermal systems (EGS); direct capture carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and the usage of renewable energy supplies

To address regional variations, the work groups will focus on three subsets.

• Middle East, North Africa (MENA), Russia and the Caspian region

• OECD countries.

• Developing countries.

The plan is to complete Phase 2 of the study for discussion at ATCE in Dubai in September 2021.

Phase 3. Recommended action plans for major stakeholders

Phase 3 of the study will use the earlier work and feedback from the special session at ATCE to identify professional development requirements and actions required to excel in this emerging business and operating environment.

While the target audience comprises the SPE staff, committees, sections, and members of the P&F community, the report will also attempt to provide guidance to a wide variety of stakeholders, including

• Operating companies

• Engineering, procurement, construction, and equipment providers

• Providers of oilfield services

• RD&D organizations and entrepreneurs

• Academia, continuing education, and training providers

The committee proposes to complete Phase 3 of the study in January 2022.

Final Report

The green paper will compile the information and develop a range of recommendations for submission to the SPE Technical Directors, the SPE Engineering Professionalism Standing Committee, and the SPE Technical Content Committee in March 2022.

Budget permitting, this endeavor may be closed out with two SPE summits in North America and MENA.


The work groups are being led by members of the P&F Advisory Committee, with guidance from Mark Wolf, an independent process and facilities consultant and a member of the SPE P&F Advisory Committee and the Distinguished Lecturer Committee.

Participation of other members of the SPE Production and Facilities community would be most welcome. To this end, please feel free to join or start a related discussion thread on SPE Connect in either the Production or the Project, Facilities, and Construction communities.