Quest for sustainable energy
The United Nations General Assembly has pronounced 2012 as ‘The International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’ (SE4ALL). The 13th International Energy Forum and the 5th International Energy Business Forum in Kuwait reflected a universal aspiration for access to modern, affordable and sustainable energy for all, as well as the desire of all countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
International Energy Forum is the world’s largest gathering of energy ministers. It is an intergovernmental arrangement which works to facilitate dialogue among its members that comprise energy producing and energy consuming countries.
This year’s Forum comes after the International Energy Forum (IEF) Charter which was signed in Saudi Arabia in 2011 and also at a time in which the global energy markets are witnessing major developments which could have a long-term impact on energy markets.
The event brought together decision-makers, international organizations and CEOS of energy companies as well as industry experts from around the world to engage in effective dialogue with the objective of ensuring market stability, reliable energy supplies and addressing future energy challenges.
Ministers and CEOS discussed future industry challenges and the need for necessary investment to meet the future global energy demand and focus on ways of improving safety of facilities along the energy chain without hampering investment.
The discussions in the 5th IEBF and the 13th IEF ministerial meetings were structured in six sessions, focusing on vital issues such as meeting future energy demand through investing in an uncertain future, mitigating volatility, achieving environmental and social sustainability with lower emissions and energy access for all besides the global energy dialogue. In addition, CEOS of energy companies engaged in discussions on ways and means to enhance NOC-IOC cooperation by developing guidelines for successful partnerships.
Sheikh Sabah Al-ahmad Al-sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait, declared in his opening address that all countries of the world had the right to seek social and economic advancement as well as upgrade in the standards of living of their peoples. According to him, this would require fighting energy-poverty and securing energy for everyone.
Suleiman J. Al-herbish, Director-general, OPEC Fund for International Development, highlighted OFID’S global efforts at combating energy poverty since the institution’s inception in 1976. He said OFID’S priority has always been the many millions of people still reliant on fuel wood, candles and batteries for daily domestic needs - cooking, lighting and contact with the outside world. According to Al-herbish, for OFID, working toward universal energy access for the poor is an essential part of the SE4ALL Initiative.
The applied success of the IEF dialogue turns on its work in improving cooperation between the National Oil Companies (NOCS) and International Oil Companies (IOCS) through the Industry Advisory Committee (IAC). The body is very much under industry ‘ownership’ with company executives chairing it and steering the business discussions and channeling business input into the ministerial forum.
As Stuart Brooks of Chevron and Adeeb AlAama of Saudi Aramco explained, the Committee is well placed to act as a ‘radar screen’. It enables the industry to spot emerging issues of concern, and to put these issues in front of government policy-makers. In a diverse industry, there are naturally nuanced views on the essence of NOCIOC relationship.
Christophe de Margerie of Total views joint NOC-IOC ventures as potentially not only longlasting industrial partnerships but also sometimes extending into the fields of health, education or culture. For Rex Tillerson of Exxonmobil, the soundest foundation for IOC-NOC partnerships is mutual acceptance of partners’ respective strengths and responsibilities. He extended this to include the role of responsible governments to pursue market-based policies, based on the rule of law and sanctity of contracts.
John Watson of Chevron sees the pursuit of affordable energy supplies as the best way of aligning interests across the industry. Farouq AlZanki of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation suggested that some pressures may be pushing IOCS and NOCS apart. The former are driven more by demands of capital markets and their international investors, while the latter are primarily pressed by socioeconomic and political demands at home but Kuwait has still struck win-win cooperation deals with IOCS.
Sudhir Vasudeva of India’s ONGC said his company’s partnership with IOCS has been “most satisfactory”. India values cooperation, given that it has 17 percent of the world’s population but only 0.6 per cent of oil reserves and 0.8 per cent of gas reserves. Peter Voser of Royal Dutch Shell sees opportunities for IOC-NOC cooperation to focus on gas – in particular, the exploitation of sour or tight gas reservoirs common in the Middle East; the satisfaction of fast-growing demand for LNG and in the capturing of gas whose association with oil can make its extraction hard to manage.
Jakob Thomasen of Maersk Oil explained his company’s innovative use of gas, burned with pure oxygen to produce clean power, pure water and CO2 for enhancing oil recovery.
Lastly, looking to secure future human resources to sustain the industry, Pierce Riemer of the World Petroleum Council urged greater efforts to attract young people to the industry. It is expected that the International Energy Forum will galvanize the international community into fresh action to provide access to basic energy for 7 billion people around the globe.