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At World Oil Conference, No One Questioned Climate Change Science

During the CERAWeek conference held earlier in Houston, oil companies were not of one mind when it came to the future of their industry, with some saying transportation will be electrified while others maintained oil will continue to dominate.
March 22, 2019, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Oil Rig

It wasn't necessarily oil vs. battery advocates, as both sides are represented within the oil industry at CERAWeek, the global conference organized by consulting firm IHS Markit that occurred all through last week, writes business columnist Chris Tomlinson for the Houston Chronicle on March 15.

We are operating in a world that is not on a sustainable path,” said Bob Dudley, CEO of oil and gas giant BP...Dudley and other leaders of European oil and gas companies predicted an electric future, where renewable energy sources backed by natural gas supplied energy to homes and businesses where vehicles plugged into the wall.

On the other side, Ayed Al-Qahtani, director of research at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC], stated, “We expect electric vehicles to constitute about 15 percent of the fleet by 2040... We expect oil to be the main transportation fuel for many decades to come."

[Saudi] Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, showed off an internal combustion engine that is 30 percent more efficient with lower emissions. Even though the company is not an automaker, it hopes to reverse the global trend toward electrification.

Like BP, it appears to be the European oil companies that appear more willing to confront climate change directly by attempting to reduce the carbon output of their operations.

"The world’s energy system must be transformed in a profound way to drive decarbonization,” said Eldar Saetre, CEO of Equinor, an Oslo-based major oil company. Equinor is reducing greenhouse emissions in the existing oil and gas production process while preparing for the day when oil demand begins to drop, Saetre said.  His company is investing in renewable energy, particularly wind production offshore, where the company has experience building platforms in the North Sea.

San Ramon, Calif.-based Chevron is approaching climate change indirectly by having its venture capital arm invest in technologies to remove carbon from the air to offset burning fossil fuels, adds Tomlinson.

Reality check

"The International Energy Agency, which governments worldwide rely on to track global energy supplies, said in October that overall oil demand is expected to rise 12 percent by 2040, reaching 105 million barrels a day," writes James Osborne for the Chronicle

Tomlinson ends his commentary on a positive note, notwithstanding the pessimistic reality check by his colleague when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The one thing no one questioned at CERAWeek was the reality of climate change.

But the fact there is a competition at all to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is an exciting step forward. And the race may even produce the breakthroughs we desperately need.

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Hat tip to Nan Hildreth.
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Published on Friday, March 15, 2019 in Houston Chronicle
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