JPT Technology Minute Poll: To Which of the Top Five UN Sustainability Development Goals Do You Think the Oil and Gas Industry Will Contribute the Most?

The UN Sustainable Development Goals. Source:

As an SPE member and researcher in the oil and gas field, I have reviewed technical papers from the Society’s conferences and journals every year, as well as papers from other peer-review journals. The JPT Technology Minute offers an excellent platform by which to share some of my insights on a few selected SPE papers, or certain topics, with readers around the world, and also provides a great opportunity to interact with JPT’s readers to obtain feedback.  

My purpose for this blog is to address the promotion of sustainability awareness and to ask what should be done to create a better world, by individual petroleum engineers and the industry as whole. Can we develop more sustainable and accountable oil and gas resources? Sustainable development refers to the development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Our industry should play a more important role in reducing emissions, safety, discharge, and ecological impact, but should provide energy at a reasonable cost. 2019 SPE President Sami Alnuaim has stated that sustainability means survivability for the oil and gas industry. Therefore, we should start working now to improve all aspects of sustainability and make a positive impact on the environment, economy, and society.

The papers of interest I have identified cover sustainable development of oil and gas resources in various aspects.

SPE 190550 “Sustainable Development Goals Atlas.” This paper indicates that the oil and gas industry has great potential to make contributions to all 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The developed atlas helps the industry to understand the relationship between the SDGs and the industry, promotes the awareness of challenges and opportunities for achieving SDGs, and suggests that proposed multistakeholder collaboration is the best practice to help industry to achieves SDGs.

SPE 191537 “Transforming Natural Resource Management for a Sustainable Planet.” This paper also indicates that the new United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) has incorporated the guidelines for social and environmental consideration for ensuring balanced, responsible, and resilient ways to evaluate and develop oil and gas resources. 

SPE 184447 “Performance Framework for Evolving Sustainability Strategies.” This paper develops a performance framework for evolving strategies to help the industry successfully implement a sustainable culture transformation.

I thus propose this question to our readers:


Ray (Zhenhua) Rui is a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests include unconventional and conventional resource assessment and development, techno-economic analysis, technology-development evaluation, project evaluation, sustainable development and evaluation, industry best-practice development, and energy data analytics. He has published more than 60 journal papers. He is a member of the United Nations Expert Group on Resource Management and co-project leader of the United Nations Petroleum Work Group. He currently serves as an SPE International Advisory Committee member for Projects, Facilities, and Construction (PFC). He also has served as SPE ATCE Conference PFC Specialty Coordinator and Chairperson, and Chairperson of the SPE International Technical Award PFC Committee. He has received the SPE Regional Technical Award, the SPE Regional Outstanding Young Member Service Award, and the SPE Outstanding Technical Editor Award.

JPT Technology Minute Poll: To Which of the Top Five UN Sustainability Development Goals Do You Think the Oil and Gas Industry Will Contribute the Most?

Ray (Zhenhua) Rui, MIT

26 March 2019