Geosciences are the core of the energy transition. It is within geological formations that high value oil and gas, a critical enabler, has formed, is explored for, and exploited. It is also within geological formations that wind turbines are founded, carbon dioxide will be stored, and other energy sources and critical minerals are found. Industry geoscientists will be highly relevant in the transition as only industry has the industrial capacity, technical and commercial human resources, financial capability, and project execution skills to facilitate the energy transition.
But application of geosciences must be strengthened. The application and scope must broaden to resources beyond oil and gas, be more digital and develop enhanced measuring techniques to secure supply of energy and Earth resources to comply with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Geosciences have direct implications for mapping and valuation of all natural resources, for sustainability, safety, risk mitigation towards geohazards, and to prevent overuse of land and sea areas. We live in a period termed by geologists as the Anthropocene, or “the age of the humans.”
Some of the key changes and challenges in geosciences in the last few years are:
- Oil and gas resources are critical in foreseeable time for many reasons, but are under pressure for availability, value and sustainability
- Water, Earth’s most precious natural resource, is increasingly a commodity. It is a carbon-free, but access to water for other uses will in the future be a competitive advantage and likely come at an increasing monetary and societal cost, not least in onshore regions
- Wind, solar and beyond, play increasingly bigger roles but require land and sea space to build operations. Reliable resource mapping is needed and potential changes in resource availability by climate change are not studied well enough
- Earth minerals are increasingly needed by society to produce batteries for electric vehicles and for components in wind turbines and solar panels
- Subsurface storage of anthropogenic CO2 does not come without geological risk for safe storage
Geosciences play a vital role to solve all these challenges but require fundamental combined insight into Earth´s interacting physical, chemical, and biological processes. The fundamental insight into Earth and its dynamics need to be combined with profitable business cases to secure delivery of energy at a price that is affordable.
Ole J. Martinsen is a senior advisor in Equinor and a geologist with firm roots in stratigraphy and sedimentary basin analysis. Ole completed his PhD at the University of Bergen in 1990. He was then visiting professor at the University of Wyoming from 1990–93 before starting with Norsk Hydro in 1993. He worked with geological research, global exploration and early phase development as specialist, head geologist, and advisor until the merger with Statoil in 2007. He was then VP for exploration research, senior advisor, and chief geologist until 2018. From 2019 he has been senior advisor in the corporate investment arena. Ole has published some 80 peer-reviewed papers in a broad range of geoscience disciplines from sedimentology to seismic modeling to field development and spoken regularly at international conferences through his career. He has won a series of scientific awards, including the AAPG Robert R. Berg award in 2011 for outstanding research, the Ziad Beydoun award in 2003 and the Fredrik Meltzer prize from the University of Bergen in 1992. He was also the AAPG Roy M. Huffington International Distinguished Lecturer to the Asia-Pacific Region in 2011 and the co-chair of the AAPG Distinguished Lecturer Committee from 2013–2016. He was also SEPM International Councilor from 2002-2004 and has worked with several geoscience organizations on committees and as volunteer.