U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Innovation and Tech at Forefront of CERAWeek 2019

By Matt Letourneau

As we look back on CERAWeek 2019, it is once again apparent just how much the energy sector has become a high tech industry.  The theme of this year’s conference, attended by Global Energy Institute president and CEO Karen Harbert, was “Silicon Valley Meets the Oil Patch.”  Indeed, a glance at the attendee and exhibitor list may lead one to think that this was a Silicon Valley conference.  

For instance, tech giant Microsoft had a large presence, with booths, presentations and displays throughout the conference, and  even announced several partnership between Microsoft and E&P companies. Perhaps most significant was the announcement that Maana – a pioneering digital tech startup whose investors include Shell and Chevron – would soon strike up a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help oil and natural gas companies advance their digital evolution.

Microsoft and industry giant Schlumberger also touted their prior collaboration, which is intended to further digitize oil and natural gas drilling. Since the energy industry – particularly in the United States – has always been on the cutting edge of innovation and technology, these alliances are just a few examples of the progress being made towards greater efficiency.

Other tech titans like Amazon and Swiss company ABB were also major participants.

These unique partnerships and projects underline America’s position as a world leader in energy innovation, and highlight how new technology development is shaping today’s energy industry and laying the foundation for the future. All of these factors – reliable, abundant resources, new digital solutions and a growing, skilled workforce – indicate a continued trend in the right direction.

GEI has long championed advancements innovation. We launched the EnergyInnovates initiative, designed to showcase technology leadership and highlight the energy advancements that improve our everyday life. Our latest EnergyInnovates video installment showcased NuScale, a company that has developed a small, mobile nuclear reactor that can be deployed quickly and at a low cost.

This small modular reactor (SMR) has a wide range of applications that include desalinating water, support for renewables resources, and reliable, emissions-free baseload power. This technology has global ramifications; specifically, the potential to provide clean water and electricity, reliably and affordably, for those who need it.

As CERAWeek comes to a close, we’re encouraged by the recognition of technology as a strategic imperative in the energy sector and look forward to more cross-sector collaboration.

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