Growing global demand will push oil and gas companies deeper into unconventional reserves

Increasing production from unconventional sources such as shale formations and deepwater reserves will be essential for the oil and gas industry to meet growing global demand for energy.

Earlier this month, at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston, BP Group Chief Executive Bob Dudley delivered a keynote address that focused on how the industry can meet growing global demand for oil and gas.

Dudley noted that, although the rate of growth in energy demand has been consistent over the years, there has been a dramatic shift in where that demand is coming from. According to estimates developed by BP, global demand for energy will increase by more than 30 percent between now and 2030, with nearly 90 percent of that growth coming from emerging economies, such as China and India.

According to Dudley, the world will need to begin producing an additional 16 million barrels of oil per day in order to meet this challenge. The rise in demand for natural gas is expected to be even greater, as its role in electricity generation continues to increase. However, the BP executive asserted that there is no reason to let fears of a supply shortage get out of hand.

"Thanks to new frontiers such as shale and deepwater, our industry is now producing an enormous amount of previously unreachable oil and gas," noted Dudley, who added that he believes new reserves will continue to be uncovered.

Despite the optimism being projected by Dudley and other stakeholders, the industry will continue to face significant challenges as it seeks to develop new reserves in hard-to-reach locations, such as shale formations.

Companies that provide critical services such as drill stem testing will be critical partners as energy companies seek to meet growing global demand. Advances in oil production equipment will also be essential. 

Fortunately, there is ongoing innovation aimed at meeting the need for more powerful extraction tools. For instance, the rising use of hydraulic jet pumps promises to improve the efficiency with which companies can access unconventional oil and gas reserves.