Despite a present slump due to the recession, global demand for energy will increase dramatically over the next two decades – driven primarily from developing regions and countries – and many resources will be needed if economies expect to thrive or even survive, according to panelists at IHS CERA Week 2010, the 29th conference annually hosted in the global energy capital by the research and consulting outfit.
IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh put it simply: “On the demand side, it’s China, China, China,” he said. “And it could be India eventually.”
Furthermore, the world is going through a “global redesign,” as one panelist put it, whereby countries increasingly will have to work together to tackle complicated issues – climate change, supply and demand, unsustainable debt, nuclear proliferation – to produce “a more prosperous world.”
Robert Hormats, U.S. under secretary of state for economics, energy, and agricultural affairs, kicked off the conference with his summation of the world outlook at present.
“We have the opportunity as policy makers and as business people in this generation to take advantage of historic opportunities resulting from changes in the global economy from the new global economic geography, if you will,” Hormats said. “Or we have the opportunity… to make some very historic mistakes.”
Hormats is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s top economic official, advising her on international economic policy. He previously was a senior executive at Goldman Sachs.
Connectivity is of increasing importance, he said. Globalization of trade, finance, technology and manufacturing means countries will have to work together in a far more multi-polar world.
Energy demand is shifting from the developed world to the developing world.
Locations of recoverable reserves also are changing the energy landscape.
In gas, Qatar has become “the undisputed location” for global gas trade as far as liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is concerned, said IHS Associate Director Rafael McDonald. Qatari production is twice as much as anywhere else in the world, on its way to three times as high, McDonald said, but recent progress in Australian coal-bed methane means the Down Under, which is adding 15 billion cubic feet per day of liquefaction capacity could challenge the Middle Eastern gas giant.
In the U.S., technology pioneered in the Barnett Shale has made its way to more than a dozen other similar unconventional gas plays nationwide. Whereas unconventional gas accounted for about 14 percent of 1990 gas production, “fully half of natural gas production” at present is derived from unconventional sources; Shale gas accounted for 75 percent of the productive capacity increase in 2006.
Shale gas reserves are being found across the globe, and with an estimated 150-year-supply of at least 5 quadrillion cubic feet, the implications for the industry are immense, McDonald said.
Echoing the belief in Asian demand growth, McDonald said the region will take up between 25 percent to 30 percent of global gas demand by 2030, up from 12 percent today.
Beyond fossil fuels
While fossil fuels will continue to be needed, many are pursuing renewable resources, such as wind power and solar energy.
“I definitely think we are in a green revolution, but it’s in slow motion and it’s very difficult to tell when and if it’s going to speed up,” said Bert Turner, vice president of environment solutions.
Jone-Lin Wang, managing director of global power, agrees, saying the process will be “long and costly” because of the cost differences between clean energy forms and traditional forms.