Here are my top 5 predictions for the energy market in 2023.
- Strong energy demand
- Regulations will hit producers hard.
- It’s still hard to find qualified people.
- Proving emissions become mandatory
- Investing in automation will grow.
Let’s go through each prediction.
1 Strong Energy Demand
While the overall market is calling for recession, the energy market is anticipating steady to rapid growth.
Goldman Sachs believes a supply shortage and insufficient investment in new supply will drive a bumper year for the overall commodity market but specifically energy as well. There’s gonna be new investments in oil, gas, metals, all kinds of stuff. Basically, the beginning of a new supercycle in commodities.
The chart above shows steady growth for oil & natural gas.
But, the big growth is in worldwide demand for LNG growing by 90%!
So, for natgas producers who are maxing out on available US pipeline infrastructure for domestic sales, having the possibility of getting into the LNG supply chain opens up a huge opportunity to increase revenue outside the US.
2 Regulations will hit producers hard
New EPA OOOOb/c regulations will increase the required LDAR inspection frequency between 200-700%. I estimate there’s gonna be 1.4 million more inspections needed, an increase of 471%.
This will cost an estimated $831 million across US operators.
The new super-emitter regulation is a game-changer because it makes EPA enforcement easier. The EPA will hire organizations like GHG Sat to use their fleet of satellites to fly over the US to look for 100kg/hour leaks. You could fly a satellite over the US every day looking for 100 kilogram-per-hour leaks.
Getting midstream pipelines approved by FERC is going to take serious negotiation. Operators who can prove methane intensity for their entire supply chain (upstream through midstream) have a chance of negotiating a new permit.
3 Finding Qualified People
As I mentioned above, I estimate operators will need to do an additional 1.4 million more EPA OOOO b/c inspections, an increase of 471%. If the average LDAR inspector can do 400/year, that’s an additional 3,500 qualified inspectors needed. This comes at a time when finding qualified people is difficult.
In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides billions of dollars in subsidies for solar, wind and hydrogen projects. So, oil & gas producers will be competing with government-subsidized organizations for talent.
4 Proving emissions become mandatory
Up till now, operators have been able to turn in a “bottoms-up” emissions inventory report based on EPA formula estimates. Some operators believe this overstates their emissions. The EPA & environmental groups think bottoms-up estimates is significantly underestimated.
Starting in 2023, proving your methane/GHG intensity with actual measurements will become increasingly mandatory.
The following initiatives will drive this move:
- CO Regulation 22 is mandating that operators prove their GHG intensity (starts 2023).
- OGMP 2.0 Level 5. About 75% of the world’s producers have voluntarily signed up to prove their methane emissions at the source (level 4) and site/source (level 5). Once a company signs on to OGMP, they have 3 years to hit level 5. The first cohort are hitting their 3rd year now, so it’s time.
- Investors. Increasingly, investors are asking for proof of emissions and tying it to “sustainably-linked” loans, bonds, insurance and investments.
- Buyers. Right now, the EU is desperate for any LNG they can get, so they’ve somewhat relaxed requirements to buy carbon carbon credits to offset LNG emissions. However, when the demand settles on a new normal, it is likely buyers require proof-of-emissions at the source level for any LNG they purchase. This is a precursor to implementing the upcoming EU carbon border tax, which will surely be implemented for oil & gas first.
- The Inflation Reduction Act established a new required EPA methane intensity report with a methane tax for not hitting the benchmark numbers. While the timeline is a bit fuzzy, it’s a matter of when, not if.
CleanConnect.ai has a project called ProveZero that helps operators prove their GHG/Methane intensity using computer vision & machine learning to generate blockchain-based energy certificates. The ProveZero certificate can be used to generate proof for OGMP, Regulation 22, IRA methane intensity or any other certification program.
If you’re interested in hitting OGMP 2.0 Level 5, I hosted a webinar with Thomas Fox titled, “How to Achieve OGMP 2.0 Level 5 (Gold Certified) in 2023.” You can register and get instant access to the replay by clicking here:
5 Increased investment in automation
With the increase in regulations, the need to prove your emissions, and the difficulty in hiring qualified personnel, oil & gas companies will increase their investment in automation.
Industrial automation is growing steadily at 10% CAGR and computer-vision automation software is growing even faster.
CleanConnect.ai’s computer vision Autonomous365 suite enables operators to “clone” experienced employees into virtual agents that can be in 10 places at once. This allows producers to operate more efficiently and profitably.
My company, CleanConnect.ai, just received a government certification from CO called Alt-AIMM (alternative approved instrument monitoring method) that allows operators to use computer vision to replace manual LDAR.
Our computer vision suite scans for gas leaks, liquid leaks, fire, smoke, security violations, combustor efficiency, flare monitoring, and much more. And it works 24×7 in any weather conditions.
You can learn more at: https://www.AutonomousLDAR.com.