Opinions

Time flies…

This summer, my youngest daughter finished school. To me, her first day at school seems as though it were yesterday — not 12 years ago.

Lots of things have changed in those twelve years: The I-Phone took off, Uber has changed the way we travel, everybody is booking Airbnb…and we’re sharing it all on Facebook.

Change has become a constant.  Except in the energy market – mainly because of its enormous scale.

I was reminded of this when I recently heard Spencer Dale, BP’s Group Chief Economist, presenting the company’s Statistical Review of the world.   You can find it on: https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html

The chart below is part of it.  The graphic takes a moment to understand it, but it’s worth the effort because it is full of insights.

You can trace how each of five primary energy sources grew during the course of 50 years once they accounted for 1% of the world’s total energy supply.

  • Oil reached its 1% share in 1877.  Fifty years later it was up to 16%, which included a dramatic increase during WWI.   Today oil is the world’s biggest energy source, accounting for 34%.
  • Gas hit its 1% 1899.  Fifty years later, it had grown to an 8% share of global primary energy.   There was a sharp rise just after WWII.
  • Nuclear scored its 1% share of global energy in 1974 and grew dramatically until the mid1980s.  Chernobyl in 1986 significantly slowed nuclear progress.
  • Renewables jumped the 1% hurdle in 2008.   The chart forecasts dramatic growth.

Even so, if history is anything to go by, it will take decades before renewables can contribute anything like the scale of energy provided by oil and gas.  Transition takes time.  During that time oil and gas will play a significant role in the energy mix: for my children and even for my grandchildren when they go to school.


About Olaf Martins

Olaf is IOGP’s global engagement manager.  He has over 25 years’ experience in the industry. Before joining IOGP Olaf was with ExxonMobil, where he held a number of senior public affairs roles, including most recently his position as ExxonMobil Central Europe Holding’s manager of government relations and media. Olaf’s educational background is in economics.

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