In coming weeks, events will inevitably occur that will have an impact on the oil and gas industry, and once again it will be called on to respond, to change, and to adapt.
However, no other industry has had such recent experience in adapting to changes in its markets, in the political arenas it operates in, and in the technical challenges that arise, according to Mark Moody-Stuart, until recently chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell Group. He gave a valedictory lecture to the UK Institute of Petroleum against the current background in which he explained how the industry could respond.
Responding to change
By responsiveness, he means understanding how environments, markets, and competitive situations are changing; how the expectations of customers, partners, and society are changing; how new possibilities could offer opportunities or threats; and how the industry then responds to these shifts, changing what it does and how it does it.
This responsiveness, he added, has been fundamental to the evolution of the energy business and will be essential for tackling the major energy challenges of the future.
The prime responsibility in meeting these challenges includes providing the energy supplies people need. Oil remains the dominant fuel, but gas is challenging the use of coal, despite its use being artificially restricted in some markets. Some think that the world is short of the resources to meet the expanding need, but Moody-Stuart contends that what the world is short of is not resources-material or financial-but of governance, capacity, and social structures to address the issues that face us all.
With most of the world still in the throes of development, energy consumption could accelerate, perhaps doubling by 2030.
The key is not just about extending reserves of oil and gas. It is about offering new choices to customers. The industry has a long record of doing this, and perhaps the most important extension of energy choice is the use of natural gas.
Moody-Stuart does not share the pessimism of those who expect imminent resource constraints, and he sees no reason why industry's responsiveness should suddenly wither.
"In truth, it is people who respond. What we have achieved is a testament to the quality of the people in this industry. Their skills and commitment will be vital for meeting out future energy challenges, which is vital for our world.
"Doing so requires attracting, developing and getting the best from the best people. We need to be truly multinational-valuing cultural diversity and individual worth throughout our operations. People will work for an organization whose value they can share, and where different ideas and approaches are welcomed.
"I have no doubt that working in energy industries-applying scientific knowledge and advanced technologies to deliver the energy people need, contributing to sustainable development, working in diverse international teams, enjoying the stimulation of commercial competition, serving people-will remain a very rewarding and worthwhile career."