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We’re in this together. Collaboration – the key to unlocking the energy transition

Collaboration in the key to unlocking the energy transition, writes Iman Hill, IOGP Executive Director

First published at WPC, Houston, December 2021

When IOGP was set up almost half a century ago, the intent was to bring our industry together to develop and implement best practise to manage the very many challenges that face our industry. Collaboration and transparent communication have been key principles guiding how our members have worked together during this time. Today, as we face perhaps the world’s greatest existential crisis in recent history – climate change – our industry is more than ever committed to play its part.

This is why it has been particularly inspiring to see world leaders in government and business gather at the World Petroleum Congress in Houston, Texas, to bolster action to reaching climate goals, and also to discuss how to bring about a least-disruptive transition. It’s important to understand that energy transitions don’t happen overnight. Take for example, the transition from coal to natural gas, which began decades ago in some parts of the world, but is yet to start in many coal-producing countries. An eye-opening comment is made in Daniel Yergin’s recent article Why the Energy Transition is so Complicated (Paywall) that the world today uses three times more coal today than it did in the 1960s. This is a real illustration of the fundamental challenges to pace and switching energy sources. I urge people to read this truly insightful article.

So, what do we need to do to move things faster? It goes without saying that the energy transition will be severely hindered without the involvement of the oil and gas industry’s engineering capability, project management skills and investment power. In fact, one could argue that a successful transition cannot happen without our industry. So, it’s fair to say that in order to reduce emissions – and in turn move to lower carbon – we need to go where the emissions are. And we are already seeing action with tangible and accelerated action to decarbonise through emissions reductions in operations and greater investment in renewable energy.

IOGP is absolutely committed to supporting its members in addressing the challenges of getting to a low carbon world.  This is why, as a result of a strategic review conducted recently, IOGP has established a new Energy Transition Directorate with the aim to accelerate decarbonisation through reducing flaring and venting, electrification, enhancing energy efficiency and supporting the scale-up of carbon capture, utilization and storage. A further work stream on clean hydrogen will also start up in the new year.

At the same time, IOGP will also further strengthen efforts to advocate for the right policies required to support the industry’s transition. A key one will be to articulate the role gas will play in accelerating the shift to lower carbon, by displacing coal in emerging economies, providing a reliable source of energy to supplement the intermittency of renewables, and eventually offering a low carbon energy source, when combined with CCUS and converted into blue hydrogen. IOGP will also be focusing its efforts on broader topics such as standardization and digitalization, and industry skills and competency management.

There’s no doubt that there’s a lot to do, if we want to get to a net zero existence smoothly and without sacrificing the stability of emerging economies, but thankfully the WPC has served to highlight the very real commitment of our industry. The IOGP would like to thank WPC for bringing together world and industry leaders in this most important conference to collectively work on our world’s most pressing and urgent challenge.

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