Oil executives are bullish

While Climate Week NYC was underway, one of the world’s largest oil and gas events happened in Canada last week: the 24th World Petroleum Congress (WPC), known informally as the ‘Olympics of Oil’.

Didn’t make it along? Here are some key quotes 👇

This is the first time that a peak in demand is visible

Okay, this wasn’t actually from the WPC, but a remarkable op-ed penned beforehand by Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency (IEA) chief, forecasting that demand for oil will go into permanent decline by 2030.

Birol wasn’t at the WPC, but the event’s speakers were keen to refute him:

“It’s growing, not declining”

According to the CEO of the world’s largest oil company (Aramco), not only is ‘peak oil’ not in view, but demand is growing. So he said more oil investment is key to avoid shortages, price spikes, and associated hardship.

“There seems to be wishful thinking that we’re going to flip a switch”

This was the Exxon chief, essentially arguing that energy alternatives aren’t ready yet. So he likewise said we need to invest more in oil/gas production, to maintain energy security and affordability while the transition plays out.

“We’re transitioning away from emissions, not from oil and gas”

The premier of Alberta (the WPC host) said the way you cut emissions without cutting oil is via carbon capture and storage (CCS) tech, which several speakers noted is included in the UN’s net zero forecasts.

“Can I ask my Dutch friends to phase out cows?”

This was the Saudi energy minister, essentially questioning the fairness of the energy transition in a world where ~20% of global emissions come from agriculture, and ~79% of historical emissions have come from rich countries.

So all in all, the oil industry seems pretty bullish about its own future.

Intrigue’s take: It’d be surprising for an industry to endorse a forecast of its own, imminent decline. And history will soon enough cast its own judgement. But in the meantime, CCS tech still has a mixed track record, while the costs of solar and batteries have each collapsed ~90% in a decade.

The COP climate summit this Nov-December is looking pretty intriguing.

Also worth noting:

  • The next World Petroleum Congress is due to be held in Riyadh in 2026.
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