Number crunching

Olaf Martins
Olaf Martins, IOGP

As an economist by education and training, I find great comfort in numbers.

You know where you are with a nice round figure – or even the occasional odd one.  There’s truth and certainty in numbers.   They keep you grounded in reality, while at the same time stimulating your imagination.  For all of those reasons, when tasked with the challenge of making the importance of oil and gas more comprehensible to the widest possible range of people, my thoughts turned to the power of numbers.   That idea led to the creation of a series of ‘numbers of the week’ appearing on the IOGP website.  They have now been running for over a year.

Recently in Houston, at a meeting of IOGP member representatives, my colleagues and I displayed a numbers-of-the-week poster that featured the first 42.

We asked our audience to vote for the number they liked best.

The winner was 72 – the number of uses of oil in everyday life.  Here is the visual:

The next favourites were ‘net-zero’, about off-setting greenhouse gas emissions and ‘1’ explaining how a single gram of shipping diesel can move one tonne of cargo one kilometre.

Here they are:

Of course, IOGP doesn’t have the monopoly on producing numbers relevant to the oil and gas industry.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) has just come up with several enlightening figures in its new World Energy Outlook 2017 report.

There’s 48, for example.  That’s the percentage of the 2040 energy mix taken by oil and gas in what the IEA sees as its most rigorous scenario for meeting the challenge of climate change.  In its most likely scenario, with nations adhering to the commitments they made at the COP21 Paris Climate Change Conference, the world will rely on oil and gas for 53% of its energy, the IEA says. In a recent Global Energy Brief we discussed the IEA report in the context with other reports of two of our members. (link)

The IEA has several other relevatory numbers in the report as well.  Some are small in value but highly significant in impact.  According to the World Energy Outlook, oil and gas fields are depleting, while demand for oil and gas is currently rising.

In all probability, the IEA says, the world will have to develop a total of 670 billion barrels of oil between now and 2040, primarily to meet the growing need for oil as an aviation fuel, a lubricant and a feedstock.  There is a ‘continued large-scale need for investment’ to make this happen, the IEA concludes.

In our outreach we will continue to identify and promote energy numbers to illustrate the challenge that lies ahead of us – and to demonstrate the role that oil and gas can play to master this challenge.

Many of the readers of our blogs and of our twitter followers have approached us with ideas for numbers.  We have used many of them.   In this last blog of 2018, I’d like to express my thanks for your excellent suggestions and welcome feedback.

Please keep it up, sending your ideas to me at  om@iogp.org

And most of all: Enjoy the last days of the year and all the best for 2018

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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