Global Energy Summit has many questions but no answers

Industry and government officials raised several economic and environmental issues but provided no solutions in the annual Global Energy Summit at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

May 2nd, 2001


Sam Fletcher
OGJ Online

HOUSTON, Apr. 30 -- Industry and government officials raised several economic and environmental issues but provided no solutions in the annual Global Energy Summit at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

No real solutions are possible "until these questions are specified correctly" to consumers, said Robert E. Mabro, director of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies in Oxford, England, who served as moderator for that meeting.

"The question is, 'Do you want to drive a car or not?'" said Mabro at a press conference late Monday.

"The attachment to the car is one of the great factors of modern society," Mabro said. But the tradeoffs in terms of fuel costs and pollution "have not been put clearly to society," he said. "Until these questions are specified correctly, what sort of debate are we having?"

While some favor raising fuel taxes to discourage the escalating demand for automobiles, Mabro said, the recent strike by European truckers nearly brought that economy to a halt.

The summit participants discussed access to capital and to prime exploration areas "quite a lot" he said. They generally agreed that there was no danger of the world running out of oil and gas in the "30-50 years that it will take to develop an alternative energy source," said Mabro. But much of the reserves that the industry will need to develop to supply future demand are in remote areas and will be difficult to bring to market.

The participants generally agreed that there needs to be more cooperation between industry and governments, he said.

Although the issue of human rights was raised, Mabro said it was not discussed "in a deep context."

Many of the biggest potential energy resources are primarily in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and former republics of the Soviet Union. "We live in a world where a lot of people for good reason don't like the governments in some of those countries. But what to do?" Mabro said.

On the other hand, he acknowledged, "Companies have a responsibility for not encouraging oppressive governments. The problem is very complicated."

The oil and gas industry must do more to improve its own image, Mabro said. "The industry has made great progress on environmental issues, but that story has not been well conveyed," he said.

Participants were: Philippe Reichstul, president and CEO of Petrobras in Brazil; Chakib Khelil, Algeria's Minister of Energy and Mines; Rilwanu Lukman, former Secretary General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, now serving as energy advisor to the president of Nigeria; Luke R. Corbett, chairman and CEO of Kerr-McGee Corp., Oklahoma City; Jack E. Golden, president of BP Exploration; Andrew Gould, executive vice president of oilfield services, Schlumberger Ltd.

K. Terry Koonce, president of ExxonMobil Production Co.; David J. Lesar, chairman and CEO, Halliburton Co.; Gen. Guaicaipuro Lameda Montero, president of Petroleos de Venezuela SA; Peter J. Robertson, president of Chevron Overseas Petroleum Inc.; Jean-Luk Vermeulen, executive vice-president, TotalFinaElf; Michael E. Wiley, chairman and CEO, Baker Hughes Inc.; Sir Ian Wood, managing director, John Wood Group PLC.

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