Unleash new sources of energy | Pipelines of the world
As the past few months have shown, the global energy landscape can change completely, almost overnight. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, the international community rallied to transform its energy supply strategies, with the US and EU completely ceasing imports of Russian oil and gas . Measures like this, while necessary to support the people of Ukraine, have highlighted the global need for a more diversified energy supply.
Finding alternative energy supplies
Central and South America, as well as the African continent, are at the top of the list of potential regions that could intervene. Latin America is estimated to contain a fifth of the world’s oil reserves, while in 2017 Africa produced 148.6 trillion m3of natural gas – more than 7% of world reserves.
Vast potential is clearly present, but a series of factors prevent these regions from becoming the answer to the global energy crisis. Fortunately, a new technology is emerging that could transform the face of fluid transfer – enabling the installation of large-scale pipelines in even the most extreme environments.
Significant potential, major challenges
In terms of raw natural resources, several regions could easily fill the void left by the Russian energy boycott. The reality of harnessing these vast untapped energy reserves, however, is much more complex. Neither of Africa’s two major oil-producing nations – Angola and Nigeria – are currently on track to meet their OPEC-set production targets of 1.7 and 1.4 million bpd respectively. As these countries struggle to attract new investment in the energy sector, they are unlikely to meet these quotas without a major overhaul of infrastructure. There is a similar situation in Latin America, where energy reserves are abundant but a combination of political upheaval and economic instability has severely reduced production. In the continent’s largest oil producer, Venezuela, daily production fell by almost a million barrels between 2005 and 2016, and continued to fall to an all-time low of just 337,000 bpd in June 2020. .
Regardless of the world’s immediate need for alternative energy sources, the demand for temperature-critical liquids like petroleum, hydrogen, natural gas, and even water is increasing in developing regions. Large areas of the world remain underserved by major pipelines due to the inherent challenges of setting up large-scale projects in harsh or even dangerous environments, such as deserts, jungles, arctic or mountainous regions. Compounding the problem, viscous products, such as crude oil, must be maintained at a constant and predictable temperature during transport – a requirement difficult to meet in extreme environments miles from established power infrastructure. Road transport offers an alternative to building long pipelines, but in most cases this method is too dangerous or inefficient to provide a viable long-term solution. Yet even taking these production hurdles into account, with local and international demand at an all-time high, why aren’t more large-scale pipeline projects planned for these resource-rich regions. ..
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