Global energy outlook


Courtesy of Energy Institute (EI)

Q. The energy sector is facing an ‘energy trilemma’ – of affordability, security of supply, and decarbonisation. Can you outline ExxonMobil’s perspective on this issue?

A. We believe the place to start in all energy discussions is with recognition of the fundamental and universal human need for energy. Energy drives development and sustains human progress around the world.

ExxonMobil projects that by 2040, a growing world population and rising prosperity will increase global energy demand by about a third above current levels. To meet this tremendous challenge, we believe the world needs a broad and flexible mix of energy from all sources, wherever they are economically competitive. This will include oil, natural gas and coal, as well as renewables. The significant growth in affordable, cleaner-burning natural gas will help reduce emissions. And international energy trade backed by sound public policy will help to secure and sustain energy production and supply around the world.

Q. What industry innovations will help the world meet its growing demand for energy – safely, securely and responsibly?

A. The global energy industry has a long history of technological innovation which enables us to operate safely and responsibly in parts of the world that were once considered inaccessible.

An example is deepwater production, which was an experimental frontier of our industry a generation ago. Today, deepwater production can take place at depths of 10,000 feet or more. In all, we expect our industry to more than double deepwater production over the next 30 years.

Another example is Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East, where we have drilled the world’s longest horizontal well. Our record of safe and efficient operation under harsh conditions gives us the confidence to move forward with Rosneft to explore the Kara Sea, in the Russian Arctic.

Innovation has also led to the North American shale revolution. The integration of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has put within reach enough natural gas to meet US current demand for about a century. This abundant, cleaner-burning natural gas is driving a renaissance in American manufacturing, benefiting business, consumers and the environment. Natural gas emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal when used in electricity generation, which has helped reduce US greenhouse gas emissions to 1990s levels, even as the country uses more energy.

Just as important, these innovations have extraordinary records of safety when best practices are followed. We believe that horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing hold the potential to drive economic growth and bring environmental benefits in many other parts of the world.

Q.What rolewill ExxonMobil play?

A. We are committed to developing technologies and techniques to find, develop and produce the energy the world needs. And we have made our highest priority doing so in a safe and responsible way.

In this effort, our people are our most important asset. We currently employ approximately 79,000 people around the world, working to produce and deliver energy in accordance with the highest standards using the latest best practices. As part of this global team, we employ about 18,000 scientists and engineers. And ExxonMobil invests $1bn each year in R&D to help them develop and apply technologies that will further improve efficiency, production and safety.

Our industry has proven time and time again that technology is the key to meeting the world’s energy challenges. For instance, the integration of hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling is helping more than just create jobs and help consumers. It is also bringing environmental benefits, which I mentioned earlier.

ExxonMobil’s commitment to technology is also helping us use energy more efficiently. We are a world leader in cogeneration, the simultaneous production of electricity and useful heat or steam used for industrial processes. We apply this technology at more than 100 installations around the world, reducing fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, we generate about 5 GWfor our facilities, the power equivalent of the energy needs of 2.5mn homes.

We believe that with our investments in people and new technologies ExxonMobil will continue to contribute to meeting global energy needs and to using energy safely and wisely.

Q. What can governments and policymakers bring to the table?

A. Government and industry each have specific responsibilities to fulfill. Government is uniquely positioned to hold industry accountable. That includes, of course, ensuring that society’s expectations in areas such as safety and protection of the environment are addressed on a consistent basis across industry. Our industry recognises this important role.

Government is also the only institution of society that holds the public trust to promote the rule of law, to open avenues of free trade and to maintain a level playing field for all competitors. Policymakers can help economic growth, trade and technological innovation move forward by putting in place policies that enable the long-term planning and sustained investment needed for our industry to excel.

Government officials can also help by understanding the impact of their decisions. For instance, energy policies should be governed by sound science and economic assessment of the costs and benefits for consumers and taxpayers. With such policies in place, industry can develop the technologies and techniques that allow us to better fulfill our responsibility to operate with safety, efficiency and integrity.

I am confident that if government and industry meet their respective roles and responsibilities, our world can meet the energy challenges of the future.

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