The African Energy Chamber participated in the Oil & Gas 4.0 Strategic Roundtables at ADIPEC in Abu Dhabi this week. During the “Energy trends, policy formation and geopolitical factors affecting the global oil and gas industry” roundtable, the Chamber provided a critical African perspective to the global debate on energy transition.
Key issues addressed by global CEOs from across the world included the impact of population growth and decarbonization on the global energy demand and future sector policies. Highlighting global dynamics in supply and demand, participants insisted on the need to meet growing demand for heavier petroleum products and crude, which shale oil cannot deliver. Similarly, executives agreed that global energy markets are more than ever open for business and competing for foreign investments.
A major concern shared by leaders at ADIPEC includes growing criticism made to the industry by the civil society at large in light of climate change. Coupled with a depressed oil prices environment, this sentiment is negatively impacting financial capital markets performances for the sector and overall growth projections. Capital markets are going through a tough time for instance, growing at only 3 to 4% as opposed to 15% a few years ago.
As climate concerns add pressure on the sector, participants urged all stakeholders to find ways to engage the broader society and challenge the insular nature of the oil & gas industry. All parties agreed that the sector is doomed if it fails to engage women, younger generations and the society at large around inclusive and sustainable growth.
Bringing its own perspective to the debate, the Chamber insisted that Africans should not apologize for wanting to develop their fossil fuels despite rising global concerns about climate change. Chamber representatives reminded everyone that Africa remains one of the world’s lowest emitter of carbon emissions, has over 650 million people who live without access to electricity, and cannot develop as a continent without oil & gas. As a result, the imperative of reducing poverty and creating opportunities through energy in the developing world was one of the key take away from the debate.
The Chamber notably voiced Africa’s determination to build an inclusive industry it can be proud of and which does not rely on aid but on sound business practices, deals and investments. It joined stakeholders in voicing concerns about the lack of inclusion of younger generations in the industry and the need to make oil & gas more attractive for young talent.
Concluding the debate, executives and experts agreed that real tensions are arising from climate change problems. They are forcing the industry to innovate and find more efficient and low-emitting solutions to develop hydrocarbons and invest in new technologies like hydrogen and energy storage. All parties agreed on the challenge of adequately addressing two issues at once. First, the need for near-term opportunities like cost-reduction and industry partnership to deliver opportunities for all, and second the long-term need to address energy transition and help solve climate change problems.