Big Data for Big Oil

big data for big oilBig Data for Big Oil

Everyday equipment failure tends to cost oil and gas companies millions of dollars in downtime and repairs. However, it certainly doesn’t have to stay that way. In fact, by adopting predictive analytics software, or “Big Data” solutions, operators could plan for equipment problems well in advance of anything actually going wrong, pinpoint likely causes, and plan downtime strategically. The savings of these techniques could be significant.

Predictive analytics may sound obscure to some in the oil and gas industry, but investing in the use of this software is a strategic business move and a wise investment. Big data allows companies to harness the massive amount of information available in every aspect of the business, feed it into programs that recognize patterns in all of the noise, and come out with up-to-the-minute analysis and warnings of possible red flags.

The solutions offered by predictive analysis aren’t all glamourous — the programs might simply point out screws that need tightening on a specific piece of machinery. Seemingly trivial fixes like these can represent massive savings for companies by preventing any wear and tear from building up.

Currently, less than a third of executives are using big data techniques to improve their businesses. By applying this technology now, oil and gas companies can come out ahead in various ways.

  • Geology Interpretation: Analyzing geology takes great risk out of well development. Any real ground breaking is a costly affair, and geo-modelling can limit the guesswork involved by predicting the behaviour of shale basins in extraction. Big data provides the analytical tools to create responsive and accurate modelling systems.
  • New Well Delivery: Once a location has been modelled and chosen for development, drilling and connecting to new wells can also be improved through the use of predictive analysis systems. In order to reduce non-productive time on new wells, operators can use case-based-reasoning artificial intelligence systems to harness past experiences for future gains. These systems recognize patterns in streams of data and compare that to real-time information, and can warn operators of potential issues well before they actually appear, vastly reducing the amount of time lost in solving problems.
  • Well and Field Optimization: Big data techniques allow companies to analyze large swaths of data to optimize other aspects of the extraction process as well. Unlimited by data sets, companies can not only optimize drilling, but also well spacing and completion techniques.
  • Predicting Equipment Failure: Using the same pattern-recognition techniques used for well delivery, oil companies can harness information to understand if a specific piece of equipment is at risk of failure. This integration would rely on sensors within wells and on drilling equipment, and would help spot trends and provide reliable solutions. Not only that, but such data could also shift the way maintenance is scheduled, to a pattern that best responds to equipment needs.
  • Intelligent Pipelines: The Intelligent Pipeline Solution is designed to improve human decision making about assets in the pipeline industry. Designed to work on a large scale, the GE and Accenture-designed software includes enterprise asset management, risk modelling tools, monitoring and alerts and is specifically tailored to pipeline needs.

Because predictive analytics remains in the early stages, it is hard to know all of the possibilities it can offer. However, there are a few areas where this software is guaranteed to be of immense value to early adopters within the oil and gas industry, providing significant advantages over the competition. At the very least, executives in the industry would benefit from considering the integration of predictive analytics in their businesses.

Unconventional Oil and Gas Production

Economic Impact of Unconventional Oil & Gas Production

It has taken millions of years for the ancient organic matter trapped within North America’s geological formations to become the crude oil and natural gas used today.

These naturally formed reservoirs of carbon and hydrogen are easy to extract with minimal damage to the environment.  They can be extracted using “conventional” drilling and extracting methods that use natural pressure.

However, many of these oil and gas reservoirs are in decline. Thirty years ago finding oil in North America was not difficult; it was abundant. Nowadays, on the other hand, oil is hard to locate and more costly to extract.

To meet the rising demands, the world has turned to unconventional methods of oil and gas production. All of these strategies impact our world today.

The Growing Demand For Oil and Gas

In 2011, Canada produced more than 2.1 million barrels of oil per day. Even that large amount is not sufficient to meet the country’s demands.

Over the past 20 years, the demand for oil has dramatically risen; making crude oil one of the most sought after, actively traded, commodities in the world.

In fact, it is predicted that the global demand for oil will rise by 14 million barrels per day and will reach a demand for 101 million barrels a day in 2035.

With the decline of conventional resources, to bridge the gap between supply and demand, Canada and the US are exploring and developing unconventional production methods.

Unconventional Oil and Gas Production

Canada is fortunate to have the oil sands of Northern Alberta. And although Alberta’s oil sands are the world’s second-largest source of unconventional oil, this vast unconventional source of oil has many benefits and downfalls.

For one, extracting oil from sand is an expensive process. The sands are located in a remote area of Canada that is difficult to access.  Skilled workers must be brought in from other areas of Canada, which also adds to the productions costs.

The oil sands continue to be a source of controversy.  Environmental activists such as Greenpeace and Pembina Institute have increasing concerns of ecological harm, as well as the effects of global warming because of the greenhouse gases emitted during the process.

In the United States, the resurgence in oil and gas production is beginning to redraw the global energy map.  For one thing, fracking has become an “energy game changer”.

New emerging technologies are unlocking access to light, tight oil and shale gas resources.  As a result, this unconventional form of oil and gas production is changing the role of North America in global energy trade, and influencing the prices of gas and electricity in the US.  Prices have dropped substantially, giving the industry a competitive edge.

This unprecedented growth of shale production makes the US the largest liquids producer worldwide.  In 2012, of all natural gas production, shale production was 39% in the US and 15% in Canada.

According to a joint US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Advanced Resources International (ARI) study released in June of 2013 – although a dozen other countries have conducted exploratory test wells – Canada and the US are the only major producers of commercially viable natural gas from shale formations in the world.

Outside of North America, China has registered commercially viable productions of shale gas; however shale contributes to less than 1% of China’s total natural gas production.

unconventional oil and gas

The ability to unlock new types of resources (such as light tight oil (LTO) and ultra-deepwater fields) and to improve recovery rates in existing fields shows promising signs. Each year, the amount of oil that remains to be produced is on the rise.

Are Our Oil Troubles Over?

New oil production methods and resources must be discovered. The level of success with LTO needs to be replicated and unconventional resources need to be discovered throughout the country.

For example, the Lorraine Formation in the St. Lawrence Lowlands is predominantly unconventional gas silt and is considered an available resource, but no estimates are available at this time.

Shale gas resources have also been identified in Western Canada, Quebec, the Maritimes and a very small area in Southern Ontario.  Extensive exploration is being conducted to quantify the potential of these resources however sustained production is only occurring from the Horn River Basin in northeast British Columbia and a small field of shallow shale gas in the Wildemere region of east central Alberta.

It is crucial to continue the exploration and advancement of technology in this industry, as the economic impact of unconventional oil and gas production is too beneficial to ignore.

Canadian Pipeline Safety Measures

Industrial zone, Steel pipelines and valvesCanadian Pipeline Safety Measures

Understanding the 2014 Canadian Pipeline Safety Measures

Oil spills are bad business for any company in the industry, no matter the scale. It hurts the bottom line, and it hurts a company’s reputation. Any spill is a high-profile event — some examples being the Kalamazoo River spill in 2010, or the spill in Slave Lake earlier this year.

Since pipelines are the fastest and most reliable way to transport Canadian crude oil, it makes sense that keeping spills that occur using this method of transportation to a minimum is a high priority for the Canadian government and oil companies alike.

That said, Canadian pipeline safety is second to none, and pipelines are one of the safest and most environmentally-friendly ways to transport oil over long distances. Natural Resources Canada reports that between 2008 and 2012, nearly all, in fact, 99.999% of the crude oil and petroleum products shipped through federally-regulated pipelines, was done without incident, and safely. That puts the rate of spills on Canadian federally regulated pipelines at two thirds lower than the rates in both Europe and the United States over the past decade. And, due to effective spill cleanup, 100% of the liquids spilled from 2008-2012 were recovered.

Furthermore, new funding provided in the Economic Action Plan 2012 allowed the National Energy Board to increase annual inspections of oil and gas pipelines by 50 percent and to double the number of comprehensive audits to improve pipeline safety across Canada. But the measures to maintain high levels of safety don’t stop there. Additionally, on May 14, 2014, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Greg Rickford, announced increased measures to improve Canadian pipeline safety.

Here’s a brief overview of what the National Energy Board measures address:

Absolute Liability

Under Absolute Liability, pipeline companies will be liable for costs and damages up to $1 billion, irrespective of fault. Companies at fault will also have unlimited liability for spills, which means their retributions are not capped at a maximum amount and exist regardless of the amount of investment each party has personally made. This follows the polluter pays principle, demanding that pipeline operators can show their ability to respond to any potential incident. The Canadian government believes that placing financial onus on companies will keep them incentivized to keep their pipelines spill-free.

Increased Aboriginal Participation

The new regulations mandate higher levels of Aboriginal participation in pipeline safety, from planning and monitoring to incident response. This is a particularly important opportunity for many Aboriginal communities located close to future energy projects, and could offer an immense benefit for their communities.

A Stronger National Energy Board Role

The new regulations will give the NEB several important powers. These include the authority to order reimbursement for cleanup costs, the ability to provide guidance on technologies and techniques in the pipeline building process, and the ability to take control of incident response in the place of responsible companies.

Additional Measures

In 2013, the government instituted penalties up to $25,000 for individuals and $100,000 for companies, municipalities and utilities for every day of non-compliance with safety requirements. If penalties prove ineffective, the NEB can revoke authorizations, impose operations-restricting safety orders, issue stop work orders, and, in the most serious cases, pursue criminal prosecution.

Finally, the NEB undertook an increase in both inspections and auditing last year, mandating company inspections through the use of state-of-the-art monitoring technology.

The quantity and the intensity of these various safety measures stand as an assurance for Canadians with a desire to protect the environment.

Enhanced Oil Recovery Techniques – What Are They?

enhanced oil recovery techniquesEnhanced Oil Recovery Techniques – What Are They?

Canadian researchers have made recent advancements in enhanced oil recovery with a new method that boosts production by 10%

The Basics: Primary and Secondary Phases

Oil production employs the use of various methods that allow oil to be extracted from deep within ground reservoirs or offshore sites. At its core, the extraction consists of three phases: primary, secondary, and tertiary.

The primary phase of production is limited to hydrocarbon deposits that are more accessible and easier to extract due to their tendency to rise closer to the surface. This phase employs the use of the symbolic oil pump jacks seen in popular media.

The secondary phase follows the primary. Gas or water is injected into the reservoir in order to move oil closer to the surface and to make extraction easier.

However, even with these two methods combined, up to 75% of the oil reservoir can remain untouched!

The Tertiary Production Phase: Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)

The tertiary phase is also known as enhanced oil recovery, or EOR for short. It is a collection of methods that allow for more effective oil extraction when the primary and secondary phases aren’t sufficient. Typically, it is used on hard terrain that is difficult to penetrate and irregular in formation. It is also useful in wells that contain heavier oil that is evidently more difficult to extract. Typical EOR methods can yield up to three times more oil than primary or secondary phase methods. The most popular EOR methods are thermal recovery, chemical injection, and gas injection.

Thermal recovery is the most popular in the US, accounting for 50% of EOR operations conducted. Put very simply, it’s very much analogous to soaking your dishes in hot water, which loosens up grease to make them easier to wash. Dry heat or steam is injected into the reservoir in order to loosen up the oil and reduce its thickness, making it easier to extract.

Chemical injection is one of the least used EOR methods, representing only 1% of EOR applications. Again, using the dishwashing analogy: chemical injection is like using soap on crusty (and greasy) dishes. Soap is formulated so that it undercuts caked on food, releasing the tension between the gunk and the surface of the plate. Chemical injection uses long-chained polymers which are in fact found in many modern dish washing detergents. Similarly, these polymers loosen up the oil along reservoir channels, making the surface tension have less of an effect.

Lastly, gas injection in EOR is unlike secondary phase gas injection. Secondary phase mainly uses the gas to displace or move oil to the surface to make it easier to extract, whereas EOR gas injection utilizes gases such as carbon dioxide to both mix and displace oil more effectively, and increasing flow. CO2-EOR is quickly gaining popularity for its ability to use naturally occurring CO2 deposits, or CO2 created as a byproduct from an industrial process.

The Future: Cyclic Production with Continuous Solvent Injection (CPCSI)

A team of Canadian researchers from the University of Regina are developing a new method of EOR called Cyclic Production with Continuous Solvent Injection (CPCSI). The intricacies of the method are very complex, but ultimately, how it differs from other EOR methods is the continuous cyclical and injection process that it employs.

Let’s bring back the dish washing analogy one more time… but turn it up a few notches – we’re now talking about your average home dishwashing unit. It contains the dishes in an almost pressurized manner and goes through soaping and rinsing cycles until a set number of cycles have been completed and the dishes rendered pristine.

This is basically CPCSI, except you’re now dealing with oil reservoirs and heavy industrial machinery. With CPCSI, reservoirs are pumped with a vaporized solvent (analogous to dishwasher detergent). The vaporized solvent maintain high pressure in the oil reservoir, all the while loosening up all the nooks and crannies of oil.

Shut-in/open wells are used at the bottom of the reservoir to depressurize the reservoir before it once again cycles through into re-pressurization. Oil flow becomes foamy and easy to control, while internal mechanisms filter out the solvent. Experiments show a 10% increase in oil production using CPCSI methods (85% reservoir recovery versus up to 75% recovery using existing EOR methods). This new technology is still under development but is garnering much attention and interest with multiple journal publications. More announcements are to come in the near future.

Play it Smart in the Intelligent Oil Field

Play it Smart in the Intelligent Oil Field

To rapidly move forward in the competitive upstream oil and gas sector, companies need to develop a comprehensive hybridized skill-set comprised of production processes and information technology.

While competition for natural resources is driving exploration for oil and gas to extremely remote locations, business leaders are looking for ways to improve production and yields, monitor and improve business operations, improve quality, and ensure worker and environmental safety.

These business leaders are well aware that the environment is growing increasingly unpredictable, locations more demanding, and the business challenges more convoluted.

IOF Defined

In the Intelligent Oil Field (IOF) however, business leaders are now capable of processing mountains of information quickly and efficiently in unprecedented ways.  Where decision support once may have taken days to process, it is now within hours that executives can expect to differentiate between beneficial new initiatives and dead-end projects, then deciding whether or not to give their approval.

IOF is known by many names, including “Digital Oilfield”, “Field o’ the Future”, “i-Field”, “e-Field”, “Real-time Ops”, and “Real-time Optimization”.  Also well-known is how IOF can reduce the uncertainties of the looming “great crew change” and ever-increasing project complexity. IOF shows great promise for a future of higher productivity, increased recovery, lower costs and reduced health, safety and environmental exposure.

Combining People, Processes and IT

According to a Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) study, the benefits of the Intelligent Oil Field can include lower operational costs, earlier and increased production, lower capital investment, increased recovery of oil and gas, and finally lower abandonment costs.

By enabling redefined and proactive asset management and using frequently captured and distributed data converted into relevant knowledge, all critical data for decision support can be evaluated and acted upon effectively in real time.

In other words, huge amounts of sensor data can be delivered to technicians who can then remotely analyze the data, convert it to accessible, meaningful knowledge and distribute it accordingly.

By using predictive analytics, companies no longer have to maintain unwieldy data stores and thereby allow raw data to remain at the source.

According to Emerson Process Management, when you have the right information delivered to the right person at the right time, you’re able to:

  • Identify risky operating conditions and provide guidance on how to resolve critical safety issues;
  • Provide true real-time operational data to onshore operations centers, thereby reducing the cost and risk of offshore staffing;
  • Share data with subject matter experts, regardless of location;
  • Enable dynamic production optimization – including model predictive control – to ensure repeatable, safe, and profitable operating strategies
  • Identify changes in equipment performance to proactively resolve problems and avoid failures;
  • Remotely monitor real-time asset health for predictive maintenance practices, allowing prioritization and planning of maintenance trips offshore at the best cost and schedule;
  • Provide specific, targeted information to maintenance personnel on equipment problems, including which tools, parts, and work processes are required to correct problems;
  • Streamline compliance documentation and reporting.

Not a Cookie-Cutter Approach

Less than 30 years ago personal computers were first introduced into the workplace. At that time, a production engineer’s only data source was located on an operator’s clipboard or in a stack of old, daily reports found in a file cabinet.

It took weeks to route an Authority for Expenditure (AFE) for any type of well or facility work. Planning, scheduling and implementing a simple work-over took weeks to months.  These factors and many advancements since have set the stage for use of IOF.

Promise for the Future

Although IOF is not a cure-all, it is capable of addressing many current and future issues facing the upstream oil and gas industry. Implementation of Intelligent Oil Fields should be designed with the exact nature of the need and the status quo in mind.

In other words, there is a large probability that no two IOF programs will be identical as there are no two wells in the world that are exactly alike.

Utilizing Drones in Oil and Gas Industry

drones in oil and gasUtilizing Drones in Oil and Gas Industry

Drones in the oil industry? They have made their way into mail delivery and hurricane hunting, so it seems natural that there would be a place for drones in the oil and gas industry. In fact, a number of big names in the industry have already jumped on board, launching aerial tests in remote parts of North America.

These unmanned aerial machines made their first real appearances in the industry in 2013, with new experiments and tests shifting the way we understand extraction technology. Smaller than conventional tools like helicopters, drones can reach areas that have historically troubled mapping efforts. And since no humans actually have to be along for the ride, drones can achieve mapping and monitoring at a fraction of the cost of human employees.

Worldwide, new applications are emerging. Recently, geologists in Norway demonstrated that they could use drones, equipped with laser scanners, infrared sensors, and digital cameras to model an area’s minerals and rocks, making it much easier to find oil. As we move closer to having drones approved for use in conventional airspaces the pursuit to use this technology in the oil and gas industry isn’t so far off.

The First Oil Company Drone

ConocoPhillips is using the Boeing ScanEagle drone in trials in the Chukchi Sea near Point Barrow, Alaska. The company began trial flights on September 25, 2013, marking the first-ever commercial drone flight in American airspace.

Its maiden voyage took 36 minutes, just enough time to test its sensors and navigation systems for the approval of American regulators. Since then, several other companies have been approved for tests, mostly in Alaska and Arctic regions.

Terrain Mapping

Using drones to complete land surveys is more affordable than manned efforts, making the process quick and efficient. The Norwegian team of researchers mentioned previously use their drones to generate 3D terrain maps that can be integrated with geological and seismological data to produce images of the interior of the Earth’s crust.

All of this data allows experts to predict the likelihood of finding oil both on land and underneath the seabed, at a fraction of the cost of manned helicopters and other conventional techniques.

Monitoring Oil Fields and Pipelines

In June, BP became the first American company approved to use drones to survey its properties. Their drones come from AeroEnvironment Inc, the same company that provides 80% of the Pentagon’s drone fleet.

Their Puma drone, a hand-launched craft about 4.5 feet long and 9 feet wide, will perform flyovers of their Prudhoe Bay oil field to monitor maintenance activities on roads, oil pipelines, and infrastructure. The tool can also aggregate data to create three- dimensional models of roads, pipelines, and topography. And, like other drones, the Puma’s tiny size means that it will be able to reach and map areas out of the range of conventional techniques.

Oil Spill Detection

Thermal infrared and multi-spectral imaging capabilities enable the unmanned aircraft to detect leaks that would otherwise not be visible. Not only will this help crews respond rapidly to potential problems and provide additional information to first responders, but it will also help make decision-making simpler and more straightforward.

It is even possible that as technology develops, drones using advanced imaging techniques could detect toxic particles in the air from defective pipelines, taking safety to a whole new level.

OPEC: Is the Power of the Oil Cartel Waning?

OPECIs the Power of the Oil Cartel Waning?

Since the 1960’s, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has cast a powerful shadow over the international oil trade. Finally, it looks like their power is waning. For the last seven years, OPEC managed to keep oil prices high, at least 100 dollars (USD) per barrel. Today, falling oil prices threaten the very existence of the cartel.

The same high prices that kept citizens of OPEC countries happy, has slowly dried up demand for such costly oil, and inspired North American companies to explore new techniques, particularly the investment in oil sands extraction and fracking. As these non-OPEC sources for fossil fuels have gained ground, their market share has grown and prices have finally started to drop. Now, with barrels of oil sitting at a mere 70 dollars (USD) per barrel, the once-powerful OPEC is struggling to maintain control of their supply.

Crumbling Prices

Presently, OPEC countries are struggling to find a direction forward. Saudi Arabia, currently the world’s largest oil producer, and a leading member of OPEC, wants to see decreased oil prices to maintain OPEC’s large market share. Poorer countries, like Iran and Venezuela, would rather see higher prices.

At the end of November, OPEC announced that they would not cut oil production from their current 30 million barrels a day, a move which some analysts believe could see oil prices tumble to as low as 60 dollars (USD) per barrel. In fact, immediately following the news, Brent crude hit a four-year-low price, and West Texas Intermediate dipped below 70 dollars (USD) a barrel.

Disagreement Between OPEC Members

These are exactly the results Saudi Arabian leaders were looking for, with hopes that non-OPEC production will be significantly arrested, so that prices can recover naturally, while OPEC retains its current market share.

However, OPEC’s mission statement is to protect the interests of members both individually and collectively, and by willfully promoting market price drops, Saudi Arabian and Gulf leadership are driving a stake between themselves and other member nations, who will undoubtedly feel the pain of the dropping prices. Those states could very likely ignore OPEC’s stated production limits in order to protect their own budgets.

The End of An Era

It is a widely held belief that OPEC is losing its power over the market. Indeed, researchers have been looking into this very question. In 2013, Jeff Colgan published a paper that found very minimal OPEC influence on oil production. Now that’s a strong claim, but Colgan is careful to specify that while OPEC’s power is limited at best, powerful member countries, like Saudi Arabia, do have power over the international markets. So we might be seeing an end to the cartel’s power, but not the end of Middle Eastern power.

Other observers, like the Telegraph’s Jeremy Warren, see OPEC’s already shrunken market share (once a high of 50%, the cartel controls just 30% of the oil market today) as a sign of its weakness, and softening prices as the sign of its imminent demise. Infighting on oil prices may further point to a lack of control.

Many observers hypothesize that this is the end of OPEC’s control of the market through supply. Regardless, the next few years will see a dynamic shift in the oil industry as many countries vie for having the upper hand in controlling oil prices.

Canadian Petroleum Engineering Schools

canadian petroleum engineering schoolsCanadian Petroleum Engineering Schools: Reputable Petroleum Engineering Schools in Canada to Consider

Planning to launch your career in oil and gas? The first step to becoming a desirable employee is getting a great education under your belt, which will prepare you for the challenges of working in the oilfield. The industry is in particular need of engineers from all disciplines, especially petroleum engineers. In fact, the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada estimates the oil and gas industry will need roughly another 1,100 petroleum engineers by 2015.

One incentive for pursuing this career path is the high wages petroleum engineers earn. The average income is $141,000 Canadian, with a top end around $282,000. In fact, petroleum engineering is considered the highest paying engineering jobs in the world according to

To provide background on what petroleum engineers do, they’re the people on the oil and gas team who assess costs and viability of drilling projects, and design the methods for extracting oil. The education required for this career is intensive, and not all schools offer petroleum engineering programs. Instead, many working petroleum engineers have backgrounds in chemical or mechanical engineering. That means that you can put yourself ahead of the pack by getting the best specialized education.

University of Alberta

This university in the heart of the Canadian prairies offers a BSc in petroleum engineering, and it is the only school in Canada with international accreditation and recognition. It also offers an Msc, MEng, and PhD in petroleum engineering, giving students access to long-term education in its well-funded facilities.

Memorial University

The Memorial MSc is in Oil and Gas Engineering, meaning it covers both oil and natural gas engineering. There’s also an opportunity to work in an internship as part of the program. The school also offers programs in Process Engineering — which focuses on modifying materials like oil for use in products — and Environmental Systems Engineering and Management — which covers remediation, environmental law, and arctic offshore drilling.

Dalhousie University

There are two options here: A MEng in Petroleum engineering, or an MEng or PhD in Mineral Resource Engineering with a focus on petroleum. Both programs offer research opportunities for students, with the rare opportunity to study cutting-edge challenges like offshore drilling, ocean fluids, and reservoir engineering.

University of Regina

The University of Regina’s program is connected to the Petroleum Technology Research Centre, a facility used for research into all areas of petroleum production, from oil recovery to carbon storage. Its mandate is to improve petroleum recovery rates while reducing the environmental footprint of the industry. The connection gives BSc, MEng, MSc and PhD students a high level of hands-on training.

University of Calgary

The BSc in Oil and Gas Engineering at the University of Calgary covers geological principles, thermodynamics, and mass conservation alongside practical courses on oil field safety, well testing, and drilling. Set in the heartland of oil production, the potential professional links here are excellent.

Northern College of the Atlantic

Northern College of the Atlantic offers a three-year program, with a minimum of 12 weeks work experience. This combination builds an excellent base of technical knowledge and builds it up with a strong foundation in real-world lessons.

The New Wave of Energy Crowdfunding

energy crowdfundingThe New Wave of Energy Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding projects seem to know no bounds. With platforms like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and RocketHub springing up all over the Internet, the power of the group has taken many movies, games, toys, and even bioluminescent plants into solid reality.

Now, oil and gas startups are getting into the mix, with hopes of shaking up “the big six”.

For new entrepreneurs lacking deep pockets, crowd funding offers the opportunity to compete with existing oil and gas companies. Plus, since they’re starting from scratch, there’s nothing to stop them from exploring alternative energy sources and making them financially viable.

The market is there, and is already powerful. Crowdfunders raised $2.7 billion worldwide in 2012 for more than a million individual projects.

Governments are also eager for the success of crowd funding. The United Kingdom government, for example, has hopes of attracting 75 billion pounds in low-carbon fuel sources by 2020. Crowdfunders could cover up to 50% of that goal.

In Germany, citizen-owned renewables, in particular wind farms, already make up a significant market share. With 25% of their energy coming from renewables and nearly half of those sources owned by the public, German citizens invested 137 billion in renewables over the last 8 years.

Stateside, the country’s largest solar power provider predicts heavy crowd funding involvement in rooftop solar panelling, with a projected $5 billion investment in the next five years.

Oil and gas companies have good reason to get into the mix as well. New companies can diversify their interests more easily using crowd funding, and by bringing the public into investing, companies add a new level of transparency to their business. Trust built by transparency would benefit reputable operators and their businesses.

New companies aren’t the only potential beneficiaries either as big oil and gas companies could modify existing contracts to accommodate crowd funding. Either way, investors win. By providing a low-cost buy in with potentially high returns, new drilling efforts offer investors the chance to diversity and protect themselves from losses, just as any oil and gas company might.

Small Players, Big Goals

The new crowdfunding energy market has several small players, all hoping to shake up energy as we know it. Here are a few of the start-ups trying their hands at crowd funding:

  • – EnergyFunders is a site devoted to raising money exclusively for energy projects. They allow investors to browse through projects, and offer a documented investment process.
  • Symbid – Symbid is a Dutch firm that offers crowdfunding for junior mining companies and oil and gas exploration companies where the traditional investment banks won’t go. They are offering direct equity funding which is normally not allowed for smaller investors within North America.
  • EAFunds – Energy Access Funds is a startup firm that has created an online marketplace for the oil and gas industry in the US and Canada. As investments into the energy sectors are mostly limited to pension funds or even endowments, EAFunds allows individuals to be able to invest in oil and gas industry opportunities.
  • – Crudefunders was created to allow any size investors to invest in new explorations and drillings. They are more active in only including opportunities that meet their minimum criteria for investment.

Canadian Producers Sheltered from Oil’s Plunge

Canadian producers sheltered from oil’s plunge

We came across this interesting statement in an article in The Globe and Mail, written by Shawn McCarthy and Jeff Lewis.

The article states

“Canadian crude producers are being cushioned from falling global prices by a drop in the loonie and narrower discounts for heavy oil shipped to key U.S. markets.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, has fallen about 15 per cent over the past 30 days, and U.S. West Texas intermediate has also tumbled sharply. But in Canada, the average price in Canadian dollars received by producers was actually slightly higher in the past month than over the previous 4 1/2 years, Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Leslie Preston said in a report Monday.

The reason is tied to favourable moves in the currency market, along with a reduced discount for Canadian heavy oil against WTI as more Alberta oil finds its way to U.S. refineries in need of heavy crude.”

Click here to read the article in it’s entirety.