The third decade of the 21st century has just begun, and the oil and gas industry is facing intense opposition. More and more we are seeing the public becoming concerned and stepping up against the environmental impact of fossil fuels, and pushing toward a greener, environmentally friendly future.1 How will the oil and gas industry be affected during this global energy transition to renewable power?
As the frequency of extreme weather and global climate action protests increase, political and environmental leaders are more aware of the role of the oil and gas industry in the future. Some have pushed as far as to advocate for the complete removal of fossil fuels from the energy system. As a result, financial markets are more uncertain about future growth for oil and gas companies.1 Governments have started putting in place incentives for companies and municipalities to utilize renewable energy. The future of oil and gas is looking rather dire. But is it reasonable to say that the world will completely eradicate oil and gas?
Much research has shown that there is still a future for the oil and gas industry, as it is expected to continue to increase in global demand in the years to come. However, renewable sources of energy are gaining in popularity for many corporations, partially due to societal pressure for brands to become more environmentally conscious. Many corporations have indeed made promises to become carbon-neutral by a set date, others have installed solar at their facilities, and others are reducing their energy consumption.
The problem at hand is that we can collectively say, “Stop using fossil fuels”, “Your diesel car is dirty”, “Your carbon emissions are bad”, etc. etc. However, we as individuals continue to utilize objects in our every day lives that still contribute to the oil and gas industry. We use our cell phones, which contain lithium-ion batteries – Lithium needs to be mined. Mines leave huge scars in the earth. They use fossil fuel-powered vehicles and equipment to run the mines. Material is shipped using fossil fueled transportation, such as transports and ships. That material is processed, and turned into a product. That product is shipped to a store, or to your home, when it is purchased. That product is now in your hand. You use that product, your cell phone, to comment and post about how the oil and gas industry must be eradicated. Meanwhile, the materials in your cell phone were mined, shipped, and manufactured thanks to oil and gas. How can we, as a collective global community, stop using fossil fuels?
The answer? We have to start somewhere. It is a huge unknown whether the world will completely quit using oil and gas. It is unlikely that it will be soon, if at all. The good news is, much is already being done! For example, many mines are now looking to reduce their fossil fuel use by using electric vehicles and equipment. Canada’s very first all-electric mine is in Chapleau, Ontario2 – just a stone’s throw away from N-Sci’s home in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. This mine is proof that the oil and gas industry can transition to a cleaner future. This is the result of industry education. To say we are proud of our Northern Ontario neighbours is an understatement!
Let’s take a quick dive into this all-electric mine, to showcase how oil & gas industries can achieve lower emissions and support the renewable energy transition. How is the all-electric mine successful? Newmont Goldcorp’s new Borden Gold Mine, located just outside Chapleau, Ontario, is Canada’s first all-electric mine.2 The mine has eliminated diesel altogether, and has been dubbed the world’s first ‘green’ gold mine.2
The oil and gas industry can learn from industry leaders such as Goldcorp’s Borden Gold Mine. Oil and gas may not be going anywhere anytime soon, but there is significant opportunity for the industry to capitalize on the renewable energy transition, to negate the harmful effects of greenhouse gases and fossil fuels.
1Johnston, Robert; Blakemore, Reed; Bell, Randolph. (January 9, 2020). The role of oil and gas companies in the energy transition. Retrieved from atlanticcouncil.org: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/report/the-role-of-oil-and-gas-companies-in-the-energy-transition/
2Arangio, Sergio. (September 24, 2019). Official opening of Canada’s first all-electric mine: Northern Ontario. Retrieved from CTV News Northern Ontario: https://northernontario.ctvnews.ca/official-opening-of-canada-s-first-all-electric-mine-northern-ontario-1.4607600