Geopolitics & Energy Security Technology & Innovation
Issue Brief April 23, 2024

Navigating dominant narratives and data accuracy: Implications for energy security

By Sara Vakhshouri

Top lines

  • Energy market forecasts create data-driven narratives that economists and lawmakers use to inform consequential policy and investment decisions.
  • Projections by influential international energy organizations, including the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), vary widely. This discrepancy not only creates uncertainty within the market but also has the potential to impact market decisions and, ultimately, undermine energy security.
  • Moving forward, organizations must improve data accuracy and transparency, so that stakeholders can navigate energy market uncertainties with confidence, ensuring a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive energy future.


Energy market shocks and uncertainties, from the COVID-19 pandemic to geopolitical tensions, highlight the importance of understanding the nuanced interplay between data-driven narratives and market expectations within the energy sector. These narratives, which are shaped by reputable energy organizations, wield significant influence over market dynamics, impacting commodity pricing and investment trends.

Delving into these narratives and discerning underlying sentiments are crucial for unlocking insights vital for ensuring energy security. By scrutinizing data-driven narratives, policymakers, analysts, and investors can adeptly navigate the intricacies of the energy market, anticipating trends, and making informed policy and investment decisions.

However, discrepancies between how major energy organizations like OPEC and the IEA approach forecasting complicate navigating energy market uncertainties both in the short and medium terms.

The IEA and OPEC offer distinct scenarios to forecast future energy trends and inform policy decisions. Comparing the organizations’ 2023 outlook reports, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook  scenarios focus on specific policy targets like net-zero emissions and aligning with the goals of the Paris Agreement. In contrast, OPEC’s World Oil Outlook scenarios incorporate policies more broadly, reflecting a range of possible policy outcomes and market conditions. This distinction is crucial, as it results in significantly varied projections.

IEA’s reliance on a policy-based methodology, evident in its outlook report and the influential Net Zero Roadmap, is susceptible to inaccuracies due to policy shifts driven by changing geopolitical, economic, environmental, and, ultimately, national security priorities. While this methodology provides insights into potential future scenarios based on existing policies, it should not be the sole determinant for policy and investment decisions, given the fluid nature of policies. These inaccuracies between policies and market realities in the future can lead to decisions that are not aligned with market realities, posing a threat to energy security.


Moving forward, improving data accuracy, and enhancing data-driven modeling are vital for crafting effective policies and shaping investment decisions in the face of energy market uncertainties. Access to accurate data and transparent modeling assumptions is crucial for informed decision-making, particularly during the energy transition. By embracing data-driven narratives rooted in classical forecasting models alongside with polices, stakeholders can navigate energy market uncertainties with confidence, ensuring a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive energy future.


Sara Vakhshouri is founder and president of SVB Energy International & SVB Green Access, Senior Energy Fellow at Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and chair of the Center for Energy Security and Energy Diplomacy at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school focusing on national security and statecraft.


Sign up for program highlights, event invites, and analysis on the most pressing energy issues.


The Global Energy Center develops and promotes pragmatic and nonpartisan policy solutions designed to advance global energy security, enhance economic opportunity, and accelerate pathways to net-zero emissions.