January 2020


Editorial Comment: Processing a sustainable future

An emerging topic along the entire oil and gas value chain is the move toward sustainability. Each company has a somewhat different definition of what sustainability means to its operations.

Nichols, Lee, Hydrocarbon Processing Staff

An emerging topic along the entire oil and gas value chain is the move toward sustainability. Each company has a somewhat different definition of what sustainability means to its operations. For example, one company might look at sustainability as the need to find new chemical technologies to recycle plastics, while another company sees sustainability as incorporating the latest digital technologies to improve plant reliability and safety.

Hydrocarbon Processing defines “sustainability in the HPI” as the process of managing available resources, investments and technologies to maintain and optimize operations for greater safety, reliability, efficiency, and environmental and social awareness.

The industry speaks

In 2019, Gulf Energy Information carried out a sustainability survey to better understand what sustainability means in the oil and gas industry. This survey was conducted across Gulf Energy Information’s publications: Hydrocarbon Processing, Gas Processing & LNG, World Oil, Pipeline & Gas Journal and Petroleum Economist. The global survey provided an indication of the steps the industry is taking to institute and/or increase sustainable activities in organizations.

According to respondents, approximately 49% said they had a sustainability initiative, 22% were currently working on one, and 29% of companies had no initiative and were not presently working on one. Companies with an initiative overwhelmingly saw sustainability as a competitive advantage within the market, representing 65% of responses. Approximately 25% viewed sustainability as a necessity due to social pressures, and less than 10% feel the initiative is being forced by investors.

This data indicates that sustainability is a crucial topic within the oil and gas industry. The survey also showed key technologies or issues upon which the oil and gas industry must improve. These included flaring, water usage, methane emissions, plastics waste/recycling, greenhouse gas emissions and carbon reduction.

A need, not a want

Sustainability initiatives provide workers with a sense of pride in knowing their company is a leader in leaving a drilling or plant site, a city, an industry or an area better than when it arrived. These types of initiatives, when executed, must be echoed throughout the industry. This practice will provide companies operating in the oil and gas industry a voice to showcase the good that this industry can bring to local communities and to the world.

With sustainability being such a crucial topic in the oil and gas industry, it makes sense that an entire issue’s Special Focus be dedicated to this important topic. However, sustainability is not a “one-time” issue. The topic will have a place in several issues of Hydrocarbon Processing throughout this year and in the future. This section is devoted to the people, facilities, technologies and services that are ensuring and enhancing sustainable operations. These topics include the circular economy, plastics recycling trends and technologies, alternative fuels, biofuels, water management, carbon/emissions mitigation technologies and energy efficiency, among others.

The topic is also the primary focus at Hydrocarbon Processing’s International Refining and Petrochemical Conference (IRPC). IRPC EurAsia, to be held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in early June, will focus significant attention on initiatives and technologies that are increasing sustainable operations in the refining and petrochemical industries. Gulf Energy Information is also devoting an entire event on the topic. Our Sustainability Leadership Conference in Energy will be held in Houston, Texas in May. For more information on these events and/or advancements in sustainable technologies, visit www.HydrocarbonProcessing.com. HP

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