An inconvenient Truth…..

by Iman Hill, IOGP Executive Director

Iman Hill, IOGP Executive Director

One plus one equals two. The earth is not flat. The oil and gas industry isn’t doing any good for the planet. Right?

Many don’t even think about it or question the headlines. Oil and gas are perceived as relics of our past, with no place in the future. And the world can easily do without our industry. “Keep it in the ground” is such a logical concept, isn’t it?

For those fortunate enough to enjoy access to reliable and affordable energy, this might be a ‘feel good’ truth. But the reality is, almost 800 million people live without access to electricity. Hundreds of millions more only have very limited or unreliable access to electricity. Billions do not have access to clean cooking fuels. They deserve better, don’t they? Assertions that electricity access can be expanded to over a billion people quickly and in a completely ‘green’ fashion are either naïve or, even worse, ignorant. Emerging economies will continue to rely heavily on oil and gas for decades to come.

But it’s not as simple as addressing the needs of the developing world. Frozen wind turbines in Texas, solar panels blanketed in snow in Europe, current weather conditions demonstrate again how much the world depends on reliable energy sources and that the diversification of energy supply is a key enabler for keeping homes warm and the lights on. Renewables, without a doubt, play a key role in a diverse and lower carbon energy system, but they need reliable back-up. There is simply no way to meet the world’s energy demand without oil and gas any time soon. This doesn’t mean that those of us who work in Oil and Gas want to ignore the need to further decarbonize production and reduce our environmental footprint or that we are not strong supporters of the progression and advancement of renewable energy and partners in that journey.  On the contrary. If we look at the pure facts, we, the industry, are the ones driving transparency and advocating measurement and reporting of methane emissions and developing technology such as Carbon Capture and Storage. We are not the ones just talking without taking action, perpetuating myths, or politicising the debate.

The lack of public acknowledgement of what our industry does to provide reliable and affordable energy to billions, or our contribution towards decarbonization is telling. Why do we barely hear from anyone talking about the benefits of oil and gas? Because it is too inconvenient.

It is so much easier and headline grabbing to draw a picture about a planet-destroying industry rather than telling the story about an industry that is the backbone of economic growth, an industry that is empowering, literally, the lives of billions of people, an industry that is embracing change and playing a key role in achieving the Paris Agreement goals, an industry that has the brightest talents, know-how, and data to develop the innovative solutions needed to reduce global emissions.

Those of us working in the industry experience this frustration. Constant criticism and denial of our achievements can make us become defensive, sometimes even apologetic, or self-effacing. The brutal and equally inconvenient truth is that we need to speak up, to stand up for our role in enabling economic growth, aiding global development, driving innovation, and the hard work we do every day to make our delivery of reliable hydrocarbons as clean as possible.

No-one else will do it for us! We have every reason to be proud, so join me, let’s talk about it and make our voices heard. Looking forward to hearing your comments and ideas!

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