On a calmer second and concluding day of the OPEC Seminar, participants and deliberators' thoughts moved away from obsessing about the oil price and market stability, to pragmatic discussions on a more just and equitable energy transition. And, of course, to the energy sustainability trilemma (sustainability, security and affordability) - i.e., how focusing on one aspect at the cost of the other could have - in the words of many participants - "disastrous" consequences.
Of course, many spokespersons representing developing world producers at the gathering felt they need no lectures from the developed nations; and had every right to tap into the wealth of their hydrocarbons to improve their economic fortunes. No doubt an emotive subject for many, especially since no one can convincingly call time on hydrocarbons anytime soon.
The way the Oilholic views it – human mobility, mainly ground transportation, is unquestionably and increasingly heading in the direction of electric mobility. However, there are no obvious solutions or substitutes for petrochemicals, for aviation, for heavy mining and industry, for the cosmetics value chain, and many other facets of the global economy. So renewable energy, and electric mobility are the low hanging fruits, but what and where next, and how fast?
BP’s Boss Bernard Looney told the seminar: “Oil and natural gas will continue be a part of the world’s energy mix for several decades to come.” How then do you balance investments in hydrocarbons versus the capex involved in moving away from them, at what pace, and using what proportionalities?
global oil demand is north of 100 million barrels per day (bpd), and every year the energy industry needs to invest to prevent the depletion of around 8 million bpd.
OPEC puts the figure at $12.1 trillion to 2045 or $500 billion per year. Projection figures can vary from forecaster to forecaster. It's not the amount of money that’s the subject of the most heated debates both in Vienna and beyond, it’s what approach to take over the coming decades. For that there is neither a unified approach nor any sort of magic wand solution. And so the debate rages on, as it did at the OPEC Seminar, and as COP28 approaches with United Arab Emirates, a major hydrocarbon producer being the host nation (as were coincidentally the last two – Egypt and Scotland). So plenty to ponder over.
And on that note, it’s time to bid goodbye to Vienna. Just before one takes your leave, here’s the Oilholic’s latest Forbes missive on how/why Saudi Arabia remains committed to unilateral cuts, and why the oil price isn’t quite firing up. More analysis to follow over the airwaves in the coming days on what was discussed here, but that’s all for now. Keep reading, keep it crude!
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© Gaurav Sharma 2023. Photo © Gaurav Sharma, July 7, 2023.