Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Messrs Voser, Brafau & Tillerson in town

Three heads of IOCs were all under one roof here at the 20th WPC today and all had a fair bit to say. Starting with Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil told delegates the future growth in world energy demand is a cause for optimism because it will signal economic recovery and progress.

ExxonMobil is forecasting the global economy to more than double in size between 2010 and 2040, and during that time energy demand will grow by more than 30%.

“So the energy and economic challenges the world will face in the decades to come require a business and policy climate that enables investment, innovation and international cooperation. Sound policies and government leadership are critical. When governments perform their roles effectively, the results are extraordinary – bringing enormous benefits in terms of investment enterprise, economic growth and job creation,” Tillerson said.

“By understanding our strengths and proper roles in economic expansion, we can clarify our policy choices, fulfill our core responsibilities and open up economic opportunities for decades to come,” he continued.

Tillerson opined that citizens and consumers need to understand the importance of energy, the vital role it plays in economic and social development, and how sound policy supports responsible energy development and use. “The debates and discussions in society at large need to be informed by the facts and fundamental realities of the challenges before us,’’ he added.

Turning to his hosts, Tillerson said the state of Qatar is a leading example of what can be done when policies are in place to enable investment and innovation. He also feels the current economic challenges will not last forever.

“There is reason for optimism but it is more important than ever that we swiftly take on these challenges with a sound and principled response,” he said. “History proves that energy policies that are efficient and market-based are the best path to economic growth and technological progress,” he concluded.

In his keynote address to the Congress, Peter Voser, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell (pictured left) said a number of interesting things but for the Oilholic, his take on diversity of supply stood out. “Diversity of supply will play a role. Our scenarios team believes that renewable energy sources could supply up to 30% of global energy by 2050, compared with just over 10% today (for the most part traditional biofuel and hydro-electricity). That would be a massive achievement, given the enormous financial and technical hurdles facing new energy sources. But it will also mean that fossil fuels and nuclear will still account for around two-thirds of the world’s energy in 2050,” he told delegates.

Shell sees supply growth coming mostly come from OPEC countries, growing at an average of 2% out to 2030, with an important role for Iraq. “However, we don’t yet know whether the recent developments in the some countries in the Middle East and North Africa region will impact the longer-term picture for OPEC supplies,” Voser said.

Non-OPEC conventional crude supply has been relatively flat over the past years and is projected to remain so. “We will also need to unlock significant additional non-OPEC conventional resources. This could come from offshore Brazil, further growth in Africa, and places like Kazakhstan,” he continued.

Further resources could come from unconventional plays such as the Canadian Heavy oil deposits, light tight oil in North America and, of course, the Arctic offshore, whether in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, or Russia. Much of this will take many decades and huge investments to unlock according to Voser.

Satisfying rising demand will be expensive – the world must invest US$38 trillion on supply infrastructure in energy projects over the period of 2010-2035, according to the most recent IEA’s World Energy Outlook.

“This is significantly higher than past spend trends. That said, although large in absolute terms, this investment is relatively modest to the size of the world’s economy, amounting to about 2.5% of global GDP on average over the next 25 years,” the Shell CEO concluded.

Repsol YPF Chairman Antonio Brufau nailed his colours to the mast declaring his company was certain that there are abundant resources waiting to be discovered and incorporated into production, always with the most demanding environmental and safety standards.

“But we cannot allow that to make us complacent: we must not settle for just that. As I have said, it is imperative to move toward an energy model with a lower carbon intensity. The stability of the planet's climate is at stake, and it is our obligation to be part of the solution,” he added.

“That is part of a further-reaching change in mentality. We are in a global situation in which hundreds of millions of people make up the middle classes in "developing" countries (by the way, we should start changing the terminology, as I would say that, in general, they are already well developed), Brufau continued.

New energy means new ideas and new attitudes according to Brufau. The types of energy used up to now, such as fossil fuels, will need to coexist with the new forms energy, in a complementary balance that the Repsol Chairman said he had no doubt will evolve very quickly.

“I think that in this new situation it is best to put aside unshakable axioms and replace them with imagination and a capacity for innovation,” Brufau concluded. More later; keep reading, keep it ‘crude’!

© Gaurav Sharma 2011. Photo: Peter Voser, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell speaks at the 20th Petroleum Congress © Weber Shandwick, Dec 2011.

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