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As traditional fuel and raw materials, oil, gas and coal still account for more than 80% of our energy supply. We produce gas from Groningen and from small fields on and offshore, we process oil and gas into high-grade fuels and chemical products, fertiliser and plastics and still use coal for electricity generation as well as for steel production.
The transition to CO2-neutral fuel and raw materials will take decades, so it is important to produce and process traditional raw materials as efficiently, cleanly and safely as possible. In addition, we must work on the useful application of our existing oil and gas infrastructure for the future energy system, where, for example, biogas or hydrogen will play an important role.
TNO is working on the efficient, affordable and clean production and use of traditional raw materials and a sensible reduction or reuse of the oil and gas infrastructure, such as empty gas fields, offshore platforms and onshore and offshore pipelines. TNO's research programme has a number of focal targets.
Optimal knowledge of the Dutch subsurface that can be used for the development of energy functions such as geothermal energy, CO2 storage and energy storage, in addition to the traditional function of oil, salt and gas exploitation for the Netherlands.
Optimising the production of energy from the subsurface, oil, gas and hot water with smart sensors and models of the reservoir and production system. The application of Smart Fields technology can reduce costs, increase yield and minimise risk.
Optimising the production flow of energy carriers, oil and gas, often combined with water, can lead to unstable flow, vibrations and pulsations, accelerated erosion and corrosion, scaling and wax formation in the pipes. TNO is working on a better fundamental understanding of the thermochemical processes and flow dynamics of multiphase flow in production systems, which will help the industry to make better predictions to optimise the production flow. New measurement techniques based on fibre optics, ultrasonic technology or electromagnetic sensors will also be developed.
The gas transport and distribution grid in the Netherlands is changing as a result of modifications to the gas composition as a result of the integration of green gas, LNG and Russian gas. TNO is developing innovative gas composition sensors and dynamic grid models to better deploy and maintain the gas grid. We are working with grid managers and TSOs to prepare the gas grid for the challenges of the future.
Because the gas fields in the Netherlands are being closed or depleted, the question is opportune as to whether there is another useful function of the gas infrastructure in the new energy system, for example for energy storage, CO2 storage, biogas or hydrogen transport. Smart use of existing knowledge, infrastructure and invested capital can reduce the costs of the transition and accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy system. Examples are offshore wind and energy storage with hydrogen, or the reuse of gas wells for geothermal energy. In the North Sea Energy programme TNO is working on smart reuse of offshore infrastructure for energy transport and storage of wind farms.
Where no other function can be developed for the oil and gas infrastructure, it must be safely and reliably sealed off and cleaned up. The costs are high and are partly borne by the State. TNO is looking together with stakeholders at new methods to safely close wells and reduce the costs of abandonment.