May 2, 2022
By Suzanne Stewart, VP for Technology at Tendeka
(Published in Energy Voice, May 2022)
I’m writing this sitting on a flight to Saudi Arabia after more than two years of no business travel thanks to Covid-19.
Drafting this article made me reflect on the last one I wrote for Energy Voice in March of 2020 where I was postulating on what impact Covid could have on oil and gas. Never could I have imagined the magnitude of the pandemic and how much we would all be impacted.
According to World Economic Forum, 114 million people lost their jobs in 2020 due to the lockdown and to date, more than 505 million Covid cases have been reported with over 6 million related deaths. For many, Covid has become a day-to-day inconvenience at worst but for others, it is still having a profound effect on their personal lives and the way they conduct their business.
So, what happened to oil and gas? Well, despite questioning in my previous article whether we could thrive at $30, we didn’t have to for long. Over the past two years, we’ve seen WTI crude go subzero and then bounce back to around $60, stay there for a while then in March 2022, taunt us with a high of $123.70.
Did everyone stop drilling and completing? Not quite but the global rig count according to Baker Hughes was 1,016 in October 2020, down from 2,123 in the same month of the previous year. The US took a huge hit with the rotary rig count plummeting to 244 in August of 2020, down from 935 the same month the previous year. However, the good news for oil and gas is that as of 20th April 2022, the global rig count is up to 1,661.
Fortunately, the world is opening up to allow some travel without having to perform countless PCR tests along the way and allowing in-person meetings and conferences, like OTC in Houston, to take place.
My first major in-person conference was the Hydraulic Fracturing Conference in February which attracted higher attendance than pre-Covid. It was exciting to be interacting with so many people on a professional and personal level – and I survived! I really do think it was a turning point for Houston at least, as the traffic seemed to return quickly to “normal” levels after the conference.
Does this mean that we can all go back to how it was before Covid? I think for many reasons, the new “normal” will be something quite different and will be driven mainly by the necessity for sustainability. Oil and gas will be around for a long time to come so we all need to work towards minimising the associated carbon footprint and delivering cleaner energy.