Varcoe: File demand, $90 oil and power transition confront petroleum congress in Calgary

Get the most recent from Chris Varcoe, Calgary Herald straight to your inbox

Article content material

There are moments in time when it appears the power world shifts on its axis.

That is a type of situations for the worldwide oil and fuel business.

Article content material

Oil costs are on the rise, touching their highest level of the yr and topping US$90 a barrel Friday for West Texas Intermediate crude.

Demand for oil globally is setting data, simply three years after the pandemic despatched power markets right into a tailspin.

Commercial 2

Article content material

Trade capital funding, whereas going up, stays comparatively muted, one of many uncommon occasions when scorching costs aren’t accompanied by a major spending growth.

Excessive costs and rising demand can’t overshadow seismic forces looming over the sector: the power transition and the necessity to decarbonize.

As oil and fuel leaders meet in Calgary for the beginning of the 24th World Petroleum Congress on Sunday — a gathering that has adopted the slogan “Vitality Transition: The Path to Web Zero” — the business finds itself in a predicament.

How can it hold assembly the rising urge for food from customers (and a world anticipated so as to add one other two billion folks by 2050) and considerably decreasing greenhouse fuel emissions, whereas attracting the mandatory funding to make all of it occur — and as some critics need to throttle again the sector?

“There’s a entire bunch of uncertainty about how the prevailing power system goes to transition to a decrease carbon future with out inflicting points round pricing and power safety,” says Richard Masson, chair of the World Petroleum Council of Canada, which is organizing the congress that runs by Thursday.

Commercial 3

Article content material

“There’s not likely a debate on the place we’re going. It’s how can we get there and the way can we get there as rapidly as attainable? With a view to do this, you want the capital, the folks and the insurance policies to make it occur.”

Federal Pure Sources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who will ship the keynote deal with on the convention’s opening ceremony on Sunday, says it’s clear corporations and nations that may produce oil and fuel with decrease emissions “are going to be the winners” within the transition.

Jonathan Wilkinson
Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Pure Sources, speaks throughout a federal authorities announcement of $325 million for electrical buses for Calgary Transit on Monday, June 19, 2023. Gavin Younger/Postmedia

However it is going to require motion.

“This can be a crucial second in time for the oil and fuel business,” he says.

“This can be a crucial second in time, extra usually, for this dialog across the challenge of power and, after all, local weather change.”

It is usually a tumultuous time for each customers and producers as points are percolating round power affordability and safety — within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — whereas world considerations mount concerning the impact of a warming local weather and the crucial to decarbonize.

“It seems like we is perhaps at a strategic shift for the sector,” says Kevin Birn, a vice-president with S&P World Commodity Insights.

Article content material

Commercial 4

Article content material

“The short-term outlook is extremely safe — sturdy demand, sturdy costs. The long term has been trying an increasing number of unsure.”

Earlier this week, a report by the Worldwide Vitality Company (IEA) indicated worldwide oil demand is hitting file ranges this yr, anticipated to develop by 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to virtually 102 million bpd.

That works out to virtually 70,700 barrels each minute of each day.

“The info more and more exhibits it isn’t the top of oil, however truly consumption nonetheless goes up,” says power economist and creator Peter Tertzakian, who wrote the e-book A Thousand Barrels a Second in 2006 — when world demand sat round 85 million bpd.

“The buyer is saying — clearly with 102 million barrels a day — they’re saying give me extra.”

Whereas the short-term name is for extra, extra, extra, the longer-term view is for much less, much less, much less — emissions and manufacturing, in line with forecasters.

The IEA secretary-general wrote this week the world is on the “cusp of a historic turning level,” with demand for oil, pure fuel and coal anticipated to plateau this decade.

Commercial 5

Article content material

The anticipated progress of electrical autos means demand for oil is on monitor to peak earlier than 2030, whereas fuel use may even fall later this decade due to will increase in renewable energy and Europe’s shift away from Russian fuel, Fatih Birol wrote within the Monetary Instances.

These forecast drops nonetheless aren’t sufficient to place nations on monitor to restrict world warming to 1.5 levels Celsius, and it would require “stronger and quicker coverage motion by governments,” he famous.

Birol’s column prompted the Group of Petroleum Exporting Nations (OPEC) to challenge a withering response, calling it an “extraordinarily dangerous and impractical narrative” to dismiss fossil fuels or recommend they’re originally of their finish, which regularly comes with calls to cease investing in new developments.

“It might result in power chaos on a probably unprecedented scale,” OPEC secretary basic Haitham Al Ghais stated in a press release.

Chaos within the power markets isn’t new, as these within the business know solely too properly.

The oil shocks of the Seventies, the shale revolution earlier this century and the pandemic in 2020 have all fuelled previous upheaval.

Commercial 6

Article content material

Any reverberations in costs on the pumps or in month-to-month heating payments can rapidly garner public consideration — one thing that’s unfolded over the previous 18 months.

Tertzakian, who has written about previous business transformations, views this shift considerably in a different way, dubbing it the “disorderly transition.”

Peter Tertzakian
Vitality economist and creator Peter Tertzakian poses for a portrait on the 2022 Vitality Disruptors convention on the Huge 4 constructing in Calgary on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. Azin Ghaffari/Postmedia

The catalysts are environmental considerations and local weather change, however there are additionally geopolitical and financial elements within the combine, “main us to an overwhelmingly policy-driven transition,” he says.

“The issue with that is it turns into so complicated that decision-makers who need to allocate capital to carbon seize or hydrogen or no matter, they don’t know handicap the dangers anymore. It’s so difficult,” he stated.

The Calgary convention additionally takes place as a gathering of the UN Local weather Ambition Summit in New York subsequent week will focus authorities, enterprise and civil society leaders on the duty of chopping emissions extra rapidly.

Earlier this month, UN secretary basic António Guterres declared that with the most popular summer season on file, “local weather breakdown has begun . . . surging temperatures demand a surge in motion.”

Commercial 7

Article content material

“If we glance round us, by way of what has occurred in Canada this summer season with forest fires . . . one must say none of us are doing sufficient proper now. We now have to speed up the urgency of our efforts,” says Wilkinson.

On Thursday, Wooden Mackenzie launched a examine that projected the planet is on a trajectory for a 2.5 levels Celsius warming and no main nation is at present on monitor to satisfy its 2030 emissions discount goal.

In its base case outlook, the power consultancy expects oil demand will peak at 108 million barrels per day in 2032 and fall to about 92 million bpd in 2050. (Below a unique situation that may restrict world warming to 1.5 levels, consumption would plunge to 30 million bpd by 2050.)

“Oil and fuel will play a key function in power markets as they transition to a decrease carbon future,” says David Brown, Wooden Mackenzie’s director of power transition situations.

“Markets and governments have realized a lesson that you just can not part out oil and fuel too rapidly, as a result of impression on customers and costs.”

Some oil and fuel producers are investing in new know-how corresponding to direct air seize know-how and hydrogen as they search to chop emissions; others are planning for carbon seize, sequestration and storage initiatives.

Commercial 8

Article content material

For instance, in Canada, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, a bunch of enormous oilsands producers has huge plans.

Top 10 oil producers graphic

The Pathways Alliance has proposed a $16.5-billion undertaking to construct a CO2 transportation pipeline connecting a number of oilsands operations to a storage hub in northeastern Alberta.

“The entire oil and fuel business, globally, writ massive, is pivoting now quickly to a decrease carbon future,” says Pathways president Kendall Dilling.

“As we glance out a long time, we see that it’s important to be aggressive on value, and carbon, to be offering barrels into that market.”

Nevertheless, critics imagine the business is just too targeted on present value volatility.

Corporations aren’t but investing sufficient to arrange for the longer-term pattern that oil consumption will inevitably fall, stated Sara Hastings-Simon, director of the College of Calgary’s grasp of science in sustainable power growth program.

“The writing is on the wall, by way of the contraction of the business and the merchandise that it produces,” she says.

However Shell Canada president Susannah Pierce believes the difficulty of power affordability and power safety is commonly lacking from the dialog.

Commercial 9

Article content material

“We’re in the midst of the power transition, it isn’t going to be clean, it’s not going to be linear,” Pierce stated.

“You may need to name for an finish to grease and fuel, however the actuality is the financial system of the world remains to be very a lot based mostly on oil and fuel . . . we have to have a balanced transition off of it, so it received’t occur in a single day.”

On the World Petroleum Congress, Masson anticipates a lot of dialogue will look at the totally different methods corporations are taking to chop emissions whereas striving to satisfy the power calls for of customers.

Associated Tales

“Will probably be the dominant challenge,” he provides.

“It’s a query of tempo. We’re looking for methods to maneuver the power system to a low carbon future and do it responsibly alongside the best way.”

Chris Varcoe is a Calgary Herald columnist.

[email protected]

Article content material


Postmedia is dedicated to sustaining a vigorous however civil discussion board for dialogue and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Feedback might take as much as an hour for moderation earlier than showing on the positioning. We ask you to maintain your feedback related and respectful. We now have enabled electronic mail notifications—you’ll now obtain an electronic mail in case you obtain a reply to your remark, there may be an replace to a remark thread you observe or if a person you observe feedback. Go to our Group Tips for extra info and particulars on alter your electronic mail settings.

Commercial 1