Woodside Petroleum will increasingly target a share of the massive international shipping fuel trade and the multi-billion-dollar Pilbara diesel market, as it attempts to open up sources of demand for its liquefied natural gas.
Woodside chief operating officer Mike Utsler said the company was working hard to demonstrate the capability and efficiency of LNG as a transport fuel, with Woodside yesterday formally unveiling a new LNG-powered boat that will support its extensive oil and gas operations off the West Australian coast.
The new vessel, dubbed the Thiima, is the first of its kind to arrive in the southern hemisphere. The company is also preparing to support third parties in deploying what it has called "power in a box" - effectively small-scale LNG fuelled power stations that can be mobilised to remote mine sites.
Speaking in Perth, Mr Utsler said the international shipping market represented total demand for about 700 million tonnes a year of LNG if the entire industry converted to gas.
"The entire global market for LNG at the moment is 245 million tonnes (a year), so even if you only saw a small fraction, from an international shipping standpoint, convert. it could represent anything from a quarter to a third of the existing global marketplace for LNG just for the marine aspect," he said.
New international shipping laws that require ships to cut their emissions in the years ahead are expected to drive a big uptake in LNG-fuelled vessels, with about 200 already sailing in the northern hemisphere and as many more in construction.
Mr Utsler said Woodside was eyeing the potential for LNG to be used in trucking, locomotives, shipping and power in the Pilbara's iron ore industry.
"It's three billion litres of diesel consumed per year onshore in the Pilbara and five billion litres a year in marine fuels out of the Pilbara. That's billions of dollars of fuel use in the Pilbara alone," he said. "There's an attractive market opportunity for us as Woodside in our own backyard."
Beyond its efforts to open up new sources of LNG demand, Woodside is also showcasing its success in introducing artificial intelligence, data analytics and robotics to its operations.
Engineers from NASA are due to arrive at Woodside tomorrow as part of a collaboration between the two groups that will ultimately see NASA-developed robonauts deployed at Woodside's remote unmanned offshore oil and gas platforms.
Woodside is the first oil and gas company in the world to strike such a partnership with the space agency, thanks to what Woodside's chief technology officer Shaun Gregory said were the company's industry-leading investments into cognitive and analytic programs.
Information that previously would have taken weeks or months to dig out of Woodside's 30-plus years of data can now be found by the group's engineers in an instant, thanks to a search engine built by Woodside.
"They used to spend 80 per cent of their time trying to find the data; now they spend 80 per cent of their time on insights," Mr Gregory said.
Source: The Australian
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