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Energy Transition and the Community

Why doesn’t the oil industry just stop exploring for and pumping out oil?
This article appeared in Vol. 16, No. 6 - 2019

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Energy Transition and the Community

I recently had a very interesting and, to be honest, nerve-wracking experience, when I was asked to participate in a recorded panel discussion to be broadcast around the globe by the BBC World Service. Challenging, because I was not told in advance what the questions would be, except that the topic was ‘The Future of Oil’ – a rather wide theme – but exciting nonetheless, as I saw the inside of the iconic BBC Broadcasting House in London and learnt more about how radio is made.

My very knowledgeable fellow panellists came to the discussion from a variety of angles, including a researcher into renewable technologies, an analyst looking at the impact of the energy transition on capital markets and a consultant on the global energy industry, so the ensuing discussion was both informative and stimulating. However, the questions that the interviewer threw out brought home to me how little the majority of people seem to understand about the industry that underpins so many aspects of their lives in so many ways.

One of the underlying recurring themes appeared to be “why doesn’t the oil industry just stop exploring for and pumping out oil?” The fact that demand for energy, particularly in rapidly developing regions like India and China, is growing at a fast rate and cannot easily be put into reverse seems to be one that is hard to grasp. Equally poorly understood is the concept that the move to more sustainable fuels is a transition that the whole world is engaged in, including, of course, the oil and gas industry; the idea that people within the industry understand that they are vital cogs in moving the energy transition forward was possibly a surprise to some listeners. I also realised that all the conversation is about oil; the important role of gas is not often talked about in the wider community.

Why is this? What can we do to improve understanding? Let me know your ideas.

‘The Future of Oil’ by the BBC World Service

You can listen to the full podcast 'The Future of Oil' by the BBC World Service, in which our Editor Chief featured, here.

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