On February 25, 2015, I had the opportunity to speak about how constructive the energy industry is at the “Sustainable Energy for South Texas Symposium” hosted by The University of Texas-Pan American (UTPA).
The event highlighted current research directions in energy and oil and gas exploration, with a focus on sustainable technologies.
I shared with students and faculty my perspectives as an engineer and workforce development professional, discussing how the energy industry is fun and challenging because there are so many complex engineering designs, great construction projects and advancing technologies. We learned a lot and came away with positive insights into what companies are doing to improve.
Avenues for Improvement
The symposium brought together speakers, faculty and students of various expertise to collectively share views on improving sustainability in the energy industry. The discussions really shed light on some of the avenues for improvement.
Other guest speakers and respective topics at the symposium included:
- Dr. Robello Samuel, Chief Technical Advisor Halliburton, Keynote – Oil & Gas Industry Trends, Advancements & Sustainable Technologies
- Dr. Susan Minkoff, UT-Dallas, Advances in Algorithm Development for Seismic Imaging of the Earth’s Subsurface
- Marco Garza, UniqueHR RGV, Initiating your ideas in Engineering, Business, and Community Service
- Kevin Wilhelm, CEO, Sustainable Business Consulting & Education, Sustainability as a leadership strategy for the next generation
- Dr. Ramon Gonzalez, Rice University, Using Biological Processes for a Sustainable Future
Following are some of the important technological advances explored at the symposium.
The industry is capitalizing on advances in imaging technology to improve the exploration for oil and reservoir management, which allows us to extract a greater percentage of the oil trapped in the Earth.
Systems that track persons, places and things are advancing, positively affecting safety and compliance.
Through horizontal drilling, oil and gas companies such as Halliburton have improved oil production efficiency and reduced the surface footprint (land area) of wells.
Fiber optics technology is improving so that companies can improve automation and reliability downhole.
Advances in biotechnology are allowing for the sustainable production of certain industrial chemicals and materials. Below are links to organizations involved in these endeavors.
Sustainability increasing as a priority
It was duly noted at the event that investors are looking into the sustainability initiatives of companies more and more across all industries to help secure our future.
Investors are looking into the sustainability initiatives of companies more and more across all industries…
One example of change from the retail industry is how Walmart is working with companies in its supply chain to improve efficiencies and reduce waste.
Constructively working together
I spoke on the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professionals and other professionals constructively working with each other to incorporate technological advances and industry knowledge and research into company decision making to:
- Avoid costly mistakes and problems
- Improve safety
- Improve sustainability
- Get the most productivity out of people
The more professionals constructively contribute to these goals, the better companies leverage engineering resources and improve procedures, and the resulting reduction in uncertainty leads to more effective change and more sustainable solutions.
This is important for companies to:
- Capitalize on “lessons learned” (e.g. near-miss incident information)
- Gain from industry organizations
- Improve cross functional support
- Transfer knowledge into countries when expanding globally
- Reduce risk when investing in new technologies
The Office for Sustainability at The University of Texas-Pan American
Based on my experiences conversing with others at the symposium, I am looking forward to seeing the Office for Sustainability at The University of Texas-Pan American drive more and more value for both people and companies.
Marianella Franklin is the Director of the Office for Sustainability, which is taking initiative to leverage solutions and is instilling sustainability thinking, skills and knowledge into practice.
The Office is providing great leadership “not only in incorporating concepts of sustainability into university practice, but also in the creation, dissemination and application of new areas of academic scholarship in the emerging field of sustainability.”
It’s going to be collaborative people who continue to drive better ways of doing things.
Making an Impact
Professionals can have a great impact on huge challenges working in the energy industry. In an advancing industry like the energy industry, it’s important that people fully contribute to the following aspects of improving a company undergoing change.
For details on an efficient process for increasing people’s contributions to these aspects of reliably and safely advancing company capabilities, visit our Advancement Process.
It includes advice from energy professionals of various backgrounds and touches on the global need for STEM professionals in such a challenging industry.
Here are some other articles I have previously written on related subjects.