In the energy transition, oil and gas have a ‘guaranteed’ role, says OPEC secretary general

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H.E. Sharif Alolama
Undersecretary for Energy and Petroleum Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, United Arab Emirates

H.E. Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo
Secretary General, OPEC

Secretary Dan Brouillette
President, Sempra Infrastructure; Former Secretary of Energy, United States of America

Helima Croft
Managing Director and Head of Global Commodity Strategy, RBC Capital Markets

Hunter Hunt
Chief Executive Officer and President, Hunt Consolidated Energy, LLC

Mele Kyari
Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation


Eithne Treanor
Managing Director, E. Treanor Media

EITHNE TREANOR: Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, if I might ask you all to please take your seats and join us, please, we’d be very, very grateful. I know you’ve lots to chat about. It’s always great to come back after a break. You’ve got great ideas, lots of good networking, maybe some deals in the works. All of that is very, very good. But we do want you to, please, join us for this session. We have a great hour and we’re going to make sure that we fill this with great content for you.

Just very quickly, I do want to remind you that we have a wonderful publication here, and you don’t have to read the physical publication, by any means. It is “Leading Oil and Gas Into a Net-Zero World,” and this, of course, from the Atlantic Council, in cooperation with Crescent Petroleum. So a big thanks to Crescent Petroleum on this great piece of work here. Really, really good. And I know after this panel, which is the title for this, you’ll all want to read more of this and to make sure that you actually are on top of this.

It is, of course, available online as well. So you don’t have to read the physical book. But I’m going to—it’s your prize of the day. I’m going to hand it over here to our friends. So I’ll get another one.

So let’s get started here—“Oil and Gas in a Net-Zero World”—and I’d like to introduce you to our panel.

We have the undersecretary of energy and petroleum affairs, the ministry of energy and infrastructure from the UAE. Please, a warm welcome for His Excellency Sharif Al Olama. Come on. We are the Atlantic Council, guys. This is the panel before lunch so let’s make sure everyone’s welcome.

His Excellency Mohammad Barkindo has joined us, the secretary general of OPEC. We’re thrilled, of course, to have him here and very saddened it might be, in his role as secretary general, his last Atlantic Council session. But we will have plenty of opportunities on the Atlantic Council to talk to him at other times.

The Honorable Dan Brouillette joins us, too, the president for Sempra Infrastructure right now but, of course, the former secretary of energy in the US. So, again, great to see Dan. We’re looking forward to his insight.

From RBC Capital Markets, the managing director and the head of global commodity strategy, Dr. Helima Croft, is with us.

From Hunt Consolidated Energy, the CEO and president, Hunter Hunt, is with us. I’m going to have to get you started on this.

And joining us from Nigeria virtually we’re delighted, though, he has taken the time to be with us, Mele Kyari, the group managing director from NNPC. Thank you so much for being with us.

MELE KYARI: Thank you very much.

EITHNE TREANOR: So that is everybody welcomed. We’re thrilled that you’re all here, and when we look at the energy transition—you’ve heard so much about it this morning—I’m going to get right down to business here and make sure that our panel fill in everything we need here.

Sharif, to you. You know, we look at the diversification of energy. We listened to His Excellency, the minister, this morning and to Dr. Sultan Al Jaber talk about what has been happening here in the UAE.

But when we look at the perspectives of oil and gas and we look at the situation right now—the volatility in the market, the uncertainty, the high price, the new demands for more energy—you know, what can we do right now in terms of making sure that the diversification is on the right path?

MINISTER SHARIF AL OLAMA: Thank you. Thank you, Eithne.

In the UAE, let me start off by reminding everybody that last December we celebrated our Golden Jubilee for the United Arab Emirates. It’s been 15 years since the UAE has been formed, and starting from the end of 2020 to the entire year of 2021, the government and all the ministries we were working very—we were working very aggressively in terms of identifying our plans and strategies for the next 50.

 Out of all the activities that we did within the different ministries, actions related to climate and energy took the top priorities in our national agenda. As Minister Suhail mentioned this morning, and Dr. Sultan, the UAE is pro-climate and pro-growth.

In October also the UAE was one of the first countries in the MENA region to announce its strategic initiative for a net zero by 2050 and also during COP-26 in Glasgow the UAE joined the global methane pledge where we pride ourselves to be amongst the lowest countries with methane intensities of .01 percent.

Our dependence in the UAE on oil, that has come up as a lot of questions, and I want to clarify over here is that we are amongst the least countries in the region that are dependent on oil. Only 30 percent of the country’s GDP does come from oil. Over the past several decades, we have invested heavily in economic diversification programs and we have focused on nonoil-related sectors such as manufacturing, construction, real estate, aviation, and ports.

Moving on now to the global demand of oil, and, currently, we are closing in on—in terms of the pre-pandemic levels of demand close to a hundred million barrels of oil per day, and I want to touch upon a very sensitive topic, which is peak oil—peak oil demand. There are a lot of organizations, institutes, individuals, thought leaders, that have their own theories and perceptions of when peak oil will hit. Some, even today, believe that we are at that stage. We are at peak oil. Others believe that over the next 10 to 15 years that is when we will see peak oil.

Now, regardless of whichever scenario you see, the demand and the requirement for oil and gas will always remain. It’s not just simply going to disappear. And that is why I go back to what—our keynote speech from Dr. Sultan and Minister Suhail is related to investments.

Investments must do continue in the oil and gas sector. We are seeing very difficult times today, unprecedented gas prices. In my two years in the ministry, I have met with a number of delegates from different countries that are so-called pro-green, and it is amazing to see a shift from these countries in terms of their strategies, in terms of their policies, where previously fossil fuel-based energy was a—no topic of discussion.

Today, all of a sudden, it is right in the mix of things. Today, we see some of these countries actually reverting back to coal. Today, we see some of these countries actually subsidizing fuel for their citizens. So this just proves one point, which I’m really homing in on over here, is oil and gas will remain as part of the overall energy mix. Investments must continue in the oil and gas front.

EITHNE TREANOR: And I think that’s a message that we’ll hear from everybody. I think you’re in harmony in terms of that.

Mr. Barkindo, His Excellency Suhail actually talked about the Superman hero. I mean, in terms of OPEC, you’ll always be our Superman. But there’s, you know, great focus on oil and gas right now. I mean, countries want to diversify. I think everybody is looking to get to net zero.

But how important do you see oil and gas for, you know, many years to come, and even that midterm could be a bit longer than people might have anticipated?

SECRETARY GENERAL MOHAMMAD SANUSI BARKINDO: Thank you very much, Eithne, and let me also join others in thanking Atlantic Council and the excellent team for bringing us back in person at this forum that we missed last year due to COVID. We’re glad that we are back here in what others call interesting and historic times, and I’m glad to participate with these distinguished panelists to talk about this topical issue.

The role of oil and gas is guaranteed for the foreseeable future. We have had speakers this morning in several panels, including Ministers Suhail, Al Mazrouei, and Sultan Al Jaber pontificate and, if you like, for the umpteenth time that the science of climate change—the energy transition is really not a transition from one fuel to another, and, two, the world will continue to require all sources of energy.

What is required at the moment is to revisit how we explore, we produce, we refine, and distribute and consume hydrocarbons to bring them in line with current realities, especially in terms of sustainability.

The energy trilemma that both ministers and several speakers, I think, made reference to of energy access, affordability, and sustainability should be taken in a holistic manner, and oil and gas, according to our World Oil Outlook, which, I believe, many colleagues in the room are familiar with, will continue to account for more than 50 percent of the global energy mix to 2045.

This number had not moved immensely in the last 30 to 40 years. Why? Because population has been growing rapidly, over 3 percent. We project that population will grow by about 20 percent between now and 2045 and the vast majority of that growth will come from developing countries where energy poverty is already endemic and, therefore, this access issue that has been passed by the U.N. as a right, not a privilege, in the SDG-7 must be taken seriously in pursuing our transition goals.

Now, we, in OPEC, as we have said times without number, are not climate deniers. We are part and parcel of this conversation. Almost all our member countries, Eithne, are taking measures that we refer to as no regrets measures in accordance with the core principle of the UNFCCC, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

I’m very glad to see Ambassador Dobriansky in the audience, who had led the US delegation in these critical discussions and took us on board as developing countries in the most inclusive manner that you can expect any leading country should do, and then we are very glad this morning to hear from the incoming COP-28 president, Sultan Al Jaber, that he is going to follow suit in the footsteps of Paula and her colleagues in the US to make sure that the COP-28 here will be an all-inclusive COP where no one will be left behind.

EITHNE TREANOR: And we’ll talk a little bit more about that, of course, because there’s so much, I think, to talk in that area.

Dan, in your role now at Sempra Infrastructure, of course, so gas is good. Talk to us about, you know, where America is looking and how it has changed, because in your role previously in the Energy Department, you know, you could see, you know, what was going on there.

Are they in just, I mean, such a confusing situation at the moment that, you know, there’s a lot happening but is it going to be three steps forward now in a hurry and then we’ll all have to pull back again? What can the US do? There seems to be still a lot of hurdles in terms of, you know, their policy and what they need to be doing.

DAN BROUILLETTE: Well, I think—well, thank you, and thank you to the Atlantic Council for hosting this summit. And I echo the comments of the secretary general. Thank you for doing it in person. It’s wonderful to see everyone again.

I do think the American energy policy is still being formed. The new administration is still in a period of transition, if you will, perhaps not energy transition but just transitioning to a new government, and they’re still trying to find what their long-term energy policy will be.

I don’t know, however, that the country will deviate very far from where it’s been in the past and that is an all-of-the-above energy policy. It’s very important that we understand the history of energy transition.

So, as the secretary general just mentioned, oil and gas will be an important part of the energy portfolio of the world for a very, very long time, and if you just study energy history for a second you’ll realize that the transition is often not from this to that—one form of energy to another form of energy.

The transition is, really, from less to more. It’s more energy because that’s what’s needed to drive these economies all around the world. And, more importantly, I think, it’s from less energy-dense sources to more energy-dense sources.

So when you look at the world, you look at wood—the transition from wood to coal to gas to oil to nuclear technologies—it’s been a steady transition and that’s going to continue. The question then becomes, as we look at 2030 goals and 2050 goals, whether or not we’re going to have a transition to 100 percent renewable technologies.

Well, there will be some transition to renewables. But renewable technology, as we know it today, is less energy dense than nuclear technology or oil and gas. So you can’t see it replacing anything else.

So as we think about, you know, where we’re going to go in, say, 10 or 15 or 30 years from now, you still see a vital role for oil and you still see a vital role for natural gas because, in many cases, it’s the perfect complement to some of these renewable technologies.

So as we look at the United States, I think the United States—the private industry, in particular—stands ready to help fill any gaps in the marketplace that may result from the unfortunate events in Ukraine. I think the producers are ready and willing and able to fill any of those gaps that may present themselves.

But, you know, I guess the short answer is I don’t see much changing in the near term with regard to US energy policy. It’s going to be all of the above.

EITHNE TREANOR: And when we look, Helima, to, you know, 2030, 2050, I mean, clearly, the world is going to be a different place, one way or another, and the energy market, yes. But will there be any more stability in the energy market, you know, when things are going to be different, whatever they’re going to look like?

HELIMA CROFT: I mean, I think what’s really important—and first of all, it’s wonderful to be back and thank you to the Atlantic Council, the government of UAE, for hosting us again for this event.

But I think it’s really important to think about an energy transition does not mean lower prices. It means, potentially, more volatile prices, and I think what we are seeing right now in terms of questions about supply shortfall, I mean, this was already a tight oil market—you know, tight energy markets as we were having this global reopening and we had, you know, questions about insufficient investment to, you know, surge production.

That was before we had this whole crisis with Ukraine, and so as we look out to the transition, the key questions, I think, need to be made now or key answers now about how much we’re willing to get behind natural gas.

Obviously, we have governments now in Europe, we have stronger statements from the US government, about the importance of natural gas. I actually think we’re now getting sort of back to the idea that we are the all of the above, as President Obama talked about.

I think before there were question marks about, really, how much support there would be for natural gas. But as Amos brought up in his closing statements, I mean, this transition, as we think about renewables, there are going to be a whole host of geopolitical issues around renewables—you know, real concerns about critical shortfalls for the critical minerals that we’re going to need to, you know, fuel this transition, issues about who control supply chains for these critical minerals, questions about, you know, which country is the dominant producer of graphite not only for production but also for refining. That’s China, and right now there is no replacement for China in terms of graphite.

And so there are going to be all these questions about the geopolitics of renewables, questions about shortages of supply, questions about dependency, and so this is not going to be a low price transition or an easy geopolitically benign transition either.

EITHNE TREANOR: Hunter, when we look at—you know, you’re a family company, what, 1934 back in Texas, but one of the biggest privately-owned companies, you know, in terms of an oil company.

But you’ve done your own transition a little bit now. I mean, when we look at what you’ve done in terms of oil, gas, even beyond that, I mean, do companies like yourself have to become part of the transition as well to make sure that it is driven?

HUNTER HUNT: Yeah. No, thank you, and thank you for the Atlantic Council for being part of this panel.

So I think the short answer is yes. We’ve been an oil and gas company since 1934. We’re family owned. And so as the industry has transitioned, we’ve had to transition with it. It’s the old saying, if you aren’t changing as fast as your industry is you’re dying. So we are involved in electricity. We’ve owned a utility that’s hooked up four gigawatts of wind in Texas. We’re rolling out batteries across the state of Texas right now. We’re a leader in perovskite solar cells.

So we’ve tried to keep up with the industry. But I’d like to build on the comments of the other panelists. You know, humanity does a lousy job of getting off of energy resources. I think, other than whale oil, in absolute terms we consume more of every energy source we’ve had.

We actually burn more wood, more coal, more oil, more gas. We have more nuclear. And so, you know, this transition that we’re talking about, sitting with kind of a foot in both camps, is intriguing because I think there are a lot of stories on how you get to 2050 that just aren’t simply going to work, and I think one of the biggest challenges that an industry player faces is there are no mile markers along the way.

If we’re able, through humanity, to reduce oil demand from, roughly, a hundred million barrels a day down to 80 million barrels a day in 2035, which would be unprecedented in human history as an effort, it’s unclear whether we’re celebrating that or whether the industry is being condemned for being a laggard, and I think that’s the hard thing from an investment perspective to figure out how do you deploy capital.

EITHNE TREANOR: Indeed, we’re going to talk a lot more about investment because I think that’s something everybody has got something to say.

Mele Kyari, lovely to have you with us and we’re seeing you very clear. I hope your sound is also very clear, too.

Now, Nigeria committed to net zero by 2060. A lot still going on in terms of you’re still a key oil producer. You’re still dependent on this. Talk to me about, you know, where you’re going to see the role of gas within the energy transition and sort of bring us up to date. Give us a little report card, so to speak.

MELE KYARI: Thank you very much, Eithne, and agreed. I’m not here physical, but, unfortunately, I couldn’t help.

But, first of all, let me put it in the right context. Our country’s GDP contribution from the oil and gas is just 9 percent, so we are not really an oil-dependent economy. And, secondly, the Bureau of Statistics estimated that by year 2047 Nigeria’s population will be around 379 million people. It will be the third most populous country in the world.

The combination of this is that you have a very rapidly growing population with a huge gap in terms of energy access, energy accessibility. You have huge economic disparity between the poor and the—and the rich, and this is growing. And there’s no way you can take the context of energy transition out of this. Our country is clearly committed to net zero by 2060. We are doing a number of things.

And what this means to us is that to reduce our carbon footprint in a manner that will contribute to be net zero by 2060, will try to see the best that we can to make sure that we pull out the players that are in our country today, we move more of our energy sources from thermal sources to other sources of energy. Yes, you do need about seven gigawatts of energy from the renewables every year to close this gap as we go forward. We are working towards that direction.

But more than that, you know, in terms of our supply of energy in our country today, the majority—70 percent of energy is—electricity… is coming from thermal sources. And these thermal sources, particularly in our country today, most of them are not coming from gas. The majority of them are coming from fuel oils and other dirtier fuel.

So what we are due to do is some kind of replacement so that, you know, we move from the much more dirtier fuel to cleaner fuel as we discussed. And therefore, our focus today now is to see gas as a transition fuel… in addition to the many things that we have to do around the renewables.

And what we plan to do is to build enormous gas infrastructure that is required to ensure that there’s enough—sufficient supply of gas into domestic market… for international market. And more than that, within the West African context, you know, you will see that energy efficiency and poverty that we see in Nigeria is also true in many of the African countries around us. And therefore, we are trying to see how we can build a network of pipelines and infrastructure that will deliver gas across West Africa and potentially to jump into Europe through Morocco or through Algeria. This is what we are working on.

And therefore, overall, this transition will take us in the direction of paying more attention to gas in the sense that, you know, we are a 203 trillion gas country, potentially 600 trillion gas resources. This is enough to cover a lot of needs across West Africa in general, of course also supply to the world, yes.

What it means to us is that desertification is real. As we speak today, majority of our country people use charcoal as cooking fuel. Let me put it in a very—in the most rawest form that I can put forward. And that means you must find a replacement for this, and the replacement fuels is typically using LPG or CNG. Anyhow you look at it, you know, you must have an immediate replacement of that over a period of time. And as we speak today, the desert encroaches southward in our country by three to four kilometers every year. This is nothing other than the effect of climate change, yes, but more importantly the activities of man, whereby trees are cut down for the purpose of providing energy. So this is the first challenge we have to contain…

And let me speak in another context also. In our country today, mass transportation is very weak and, therefore, the only way you can reduce the number of internal combustion engines on the road is to increase on those infrastructures. So there’s a combination of many things that we have to do in a very different context in this country, in this part of the world. You have to do things that—to close the gap that is, clearly, very evident, and also as you move forward there you can have an accelerated process probably by 2030. You will now be in a position to say I can leapfrog into something different. And that’s the insight. Thank you.

EITHNE TREANOR: And let me come back to you on the investment question, that oil is going to need a lot of investment. We’ll come back to that in just a couple of minutes.

But, Your Excellency Sharif, when we look at gas at the moment and what’s happening here in the United Arab Emirates, particularly, how close are we getting to self-sufficiency in gas and where is the big push right now?

MINISTER SHARIF AL OLAMA: Then right now we are seeing—it’s a very exciting time, I would say, for the gas industry based on the prices that we’re seeing—the unprecedented prices. On the other side of the coin, of course, it is a concerning situation for the consumers, obviously.

Natural gas is part of our energy strategy. We developed this back in 2017 and it is based on getting around 50 percent of the energy mix in the UAE coming from renewable and clean sources. The other 50 percent will be coming from fossil fuel-based energy, 38 percent of which is natural gas. Of course, the strategy was developed back in 2017 and a lot has changed since then.

Back then, we anticipated around 12 percent of the energy mix will be coming from coal. Now this no longer is valid. I think it was very well announced that the Al Hassyan plant in Dubai has been converted from coal to natural gas. So we are currently working on refreshing our energy strategy and taking into account a lot of the new introductions that are coming into the energy mix when we talk about hydrogen, when we talk about waste to energy, biofuels.

From a gas perspective, we are definitely expanding on our gas portfolio. Our national oil company ADNOC has huge plans in terms of adding significant amounts of volume to ensure gas self-sufficiency for the entire UAE by 2030. In addition to that, they want to—ADNOC wants to strengthen its position as a reliable global supplier of oil and gas.

We have a number of projects that are in the pipeline, a multi-billion standard cubic feet of gas that is being developed in high-sour reservoirs and gas caps. And, plus, I must mention over here is we do have an aggressive exploration program in the country, it being in Abu Dhabi or even in the northern Emirates.

Just recently, there was an announcement by ADNOC and Eni and one of the offshore exploration blocks where there was a gas discovery. The same was in Sharjah in the northern Emirates.

EITHNE TREANOR: So there’s still so much to be done there at the moment. Talk to us—and we’re a little bit of a speed round on this one I’m just beginning to notice.

Secretary General, your World Oil Outlook says that up to almost close to $12 trillion is going to be needed, you know, by 2045 just to keep up in terms of the investment that’s needed. Where’s that going to come from and what’s the danger if you don’t—if the industry doesn’t get that money?

SECRETARY GENERAL MOHAMMAD SANUSI BARKINDO: That’s a very good question and very timely one because if you step back to the previous cycle 2015-2016, we had already registered, unfortunately, over 50 percent contraction in investments in the industry for those two consecutive years as a result of the impact of the downturn and we had not recovered fully before COVID struck in 2020, and we saw in 2020 capital investments also contracted by about 30 percent—unprecedented in history—and stayed flat in 2021.

Now, our World Oil Outlook through 2045 shows that the industry will need in the upstream and the midstream and downstream about $11.8 trillion US investments to be able to catch up and that was before the war in Ukraine.

Now, the jury is still out. The situation is evolving. It used to be daily. Now we hear it’s hourly. And I think Atlantic Council and the various sessions that we have listened today—very, very resourceful—will also help us in shaping up how this outlook will look forward—


SECRETARY GENERAL MOHAMMAD SANUSI BARKINDO:—basically, what will be the impact of this war on the industry.

EITHNE TREANOR: And, again, I mean, I think it’s the top of everybody’s mind, you know, but again, we have to, as everybody was talking to, look to the future.

Dan, you know, the investment—and we’re really going to only have time to talk maybe a little bit about investment. All my great questions here we might have to squeeze them together. But investment is the key at the moment. Maybe it’s going to be forthcoming now.

But, again, there is a general lack of funding anything when it’s got to do with oil at the moment—gas, not so much. But what can be done and what’s your advice to people? What would you like to see the investment community doing?

DAN BROUILLETTE: Well, I think the investment community is doing what it needs to do and I think the private sector is ready to do what it needs to do. But with regard to US policy or, perhaps, even the European policy, we should be careful of the words that we use and what I mean by that is that we tend to have this notion that oil and gas is going to go away in eight years as we look at 2030 or 2050, and it’s very difficult from an investment community standpoint to invest a billion [dollars] or 2 billion [dollars] or 10 billion [dollars] if you know or you think that your industry may not survive the next eight years.

So we have to resolve this with our rhetoric and resolve this with our public policy, and I think if we do that then the investment will show up because as we just talked about, you know, oil and gas is absolutely critical to the adoption of renewable technologies at this moment in time.

So as long as there’s that complementary nature, especially with regard to natural gas and, you know, renewable technologies like solar and wind, you’ll continue to see the investment come into this industry.

EITHNE TREANOR: And, again, in terms of investment, Helima, I mean, the market reacts to, yes, a lot of sentiment, a lot of fundamentals, at the moment, and, again, right now, I think there’s a lot of uncertainty out there right now. It’s very volatile.

But how do we bring that investment back? Oil and gas, yes, at these prices probably looks attractive. But what’s going to happen in five years when we’re really looking at demand that everybody projects has to come down, particularly in the oil sector?

HELIMA CROFT: I mean, Eithne, as you know, we talked in the last session about, I do think that this crisis has, essentially, changed the conversation at the government level about what type of energy is going to be needed for the transition.

If you decide that gas is an essential part of the transition then you do need to make decisions now about infrastructure, about permitting, about what type of contract environment you’re going to have.

So I do think that this, you know, terrible moment that the world is in right now we have to think about what lessons we learn from this and how do we, basically, plan in terms of decisions that will be made now in terms of the necessary enabling environment to ensure that supplies will be needed through this transition, that we do not have this volatile rocky transition.

EITHNE TREANOR: Now, Hunter, you come from an investment banking background and pulled that together with oil. It’s a great combination in this industry. It’s not where everybody is. But, again, it is—how big a problem is it and how—can you—what’s your message to the investment community to actually get on board?

HUNTER HUNT: So it—look, I think the investment community is very rational and, you know, for the seven to 10 years prior to last year the energy sector was the worst performing sector in the S&P 500. You know, we’re less than two years away from negative pricing for West Texas Intermediate crude and so, you know, there’s—with the ESG pressure that’s been out there as well, access to capital for a number of players in the US markets is actually—it’s a difficult problem and, I mean, this is why—I mean, the estimates of a million barrels extra coming out of the US, actually, I think it’ll be closer to half of that just because there’s so many challenges that are involved. The inflation out in the oil patch right now is real. I mean, we were seeing 15 to 20 percent inflation back in December before all this hit. And so as you look forward, I mean, clearly, as a transition we need to be moving into newer fuels, and, clearly, gas is far cleaner than oil.

I will just make a quick comment on energy poverty and economic poverty. You know, one of my lasting impressions of—we have an LNG project in Peru. We were visiting a couple of villages along the pipeline route and we went to a village where it was quite poor and looking at some of the social work we’d done and I was asking the person there who was leading us, well, how poor is this village, and he said, well, poor. I was, like, well, how poor? Like a dollar a day per capita, and he said, oh, no, no, no, much wealthier than that. And I said, well, how much, and he said, two.

Then we went up to a village that was even poorer, and he said the difference was the lower village had a communal truck, that they could actually gather their goods and go to market and become a price maker of sorts. The village up top had no access to transportation. A truck would show up and quote them a price for their guinea pigs or potatoes and say, take it or leave it.

And I think that’s the side of energy justice that people forget. Mobility is what will drive people out of poverty, and it’s not going to be Teslas running up the mountains. It’s going to be internal combustion engines for quite a long time, as it should be.

EITHNE TREANOR: Mele, if I can bring you in. It’s probably a topic very close to your heart in terms of the just transition, you know… look at countries in Africa. How concerned are you at the moment that there is not enough investment around or that the danger is that there won’t be?

MELE KYARI: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s very clear that differentiation is very important in today’s context as we take this route towards the net zero by 2050 or 2060. Needless to say that, you know, countries have different circumstances, particularly in West African subregion or in the African subregion in general. And therefore, total lack of investment in the fossil fuel sector simply means that some kind of exclusion for a very, very large population in Africa. And of course, on the global scale, you know, very many other nations will have the same.

Therefore, this bandwagon, you know, approach of we’re going to stop an investment in fossil fuels so that we can put into renewable won’t work in the sense that today we have much more basic problem in sub-Saharan Africa than just worrying about EVs. We are not in the EV age and definitely not in electricity supply. It’s the weakest. Less than 30 percent of the population have access to clean electricity and, therefore, you need to fill this gap. And there’s simply no way you can do this in the scale of the investment that you are seeing in the renewables where it will require probably at least 70 gigawatts—in my own country alone, at least seven gigawatts of renewable power every year until 2060 for it to cover this gap.

So, simply, the world must sit back and take a second look at it. You know, can we definitely shed this? Can the cleaner energy come, you know, much later for some countries? Can we fund fossil fuels so the resources can be available to some countries so that they can fund the transition journey itself? And also, you know, can we really, you know, segregate and say, look, we are going to fund gas development in certain countries or in certain locations so that they can provide much cleaner fuel than what is practical and what is much more quicker?

And also in the context—for instance, in the West Africa subregion today, now, we know also that the situation is not any different. In a few countries a little better, but overall energy poverty is real in the West African subregion and in most of Africa. Can we use the resources of gas that are available in some countries, particularly in my country, to say that we can energize West African subregion and the rest of Africa so that that energy poverty gap can be filled up very, very quickly, so that as we also move towards a much more cleaner fuel in the future? And of course, we all know that gas peak is still many, many years away, at least 2030-2040, that many estimates are coming on the table. Even if you take it at 2030, you know, you are still very, very far away from the reality that you are at the gas peak level.

So how to look at all this situation, it is very important for the world to sit back and say, look, what can we do about energy transition in much more weaker countries, you know, particularly, where, you know, energy poverty is much, much pronounced. And without doing this, you know, you will see the scale of the environmental hazard that we’re seeing today in terms of desertification and all this diverse—so, clearly, there must be some kind of differentiation, and I think this is the right way.

EITHNE TREANOR: And that has to be done.

Now, normally, I like to give everyone a minute to wrap up but we don’t have even that time. I’ve just about 20 seconds from everybody. I’m going to start with you, if I might, Hunter, and just—again, a call to action. What can we do now to make sure that we’re really heading in the right direction?

HUNTER HUNT: I think if the oil and gas industry and those involved in the renewable industry can view the event of the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a reset in the dialogue and find a new way of working together and hear each other and create more clarity, I think the transition has a far greater chance of succeeding than if we headed down the path that we were looking at at the beginning of the year.

EITHNE TREANOR: Your Excellency Sharif, just a quick closing word from you.

MINISTER SHARIF AL OLAMA: I think I would emphasize on the fact that our current reservoirs see a decline of 8 percent, on average, and this is without any investments. So this is much more of a reduction compared to any plausible reduction in demand—in global demand, and that’s why investing in the oil and gas sector is just crucial. It is tied up with our investments, and the other angle is renewables and green energy sources. Petrochemical products actually support that angle.

So my advice and my strong message over here is we should not disconnect the two. It is an energy mix. We need both.

EITHNE TREANOR: Dan, in your role now, I mean, and having—looking back with your experience in the government, I mean, again, we need clearer policy. What would you say to the policymakers out there right now? What can they do quickly?

DAN BROUILLETTE: Rebalance the equation. Stop looking at energy policy solely through the singular prism of climate policy. Importantly, look at energy security and look at the security in light of the events today, and make sure that we have a balanced equation and a balanced transition, going forward.

EITHNE TREANOR: And for Helima just, again, what needs to be done now that can get us to a better space?

HELIMA CROFT: Well, RBC Capital Markets actually sponsored an Atlantic Council report on critical minerals and I do think it’s really important as we think out into the transition how do we secure the sort of ethical, you know, stable supplies of these inputs that we’re going to need for the transition and we need to start thinking about them now.

EITHNE TREANOR: Mr. Barkindo, I’m leaving you the closing word because, as I said, we won’t see you at the Atlantic Council in your role as secretary general. You’ve been with us for so many years. OPEC+ is there. A few quick words in terms of the future.

SECRETARY GENERAL MOHAMMAD SANUSI BARKINDO: Yes. I want to use this opportunity to thank my colleagues at Atlantic Council for an excellent journey since we started this session six years ago. I participated in each and every one and I look forward to continuing to participate in my new role as a distinguished fellow of the Council and I’m sure the best is yet to come.

Atlantic Council is the most important think tank not only in the United States but in the world that has been contributing to scholarship, to knowledge, to policymaking. In addition, I would like to use this opportunity also to call on the authorities of Egypt, the host of COP-27, and the authorities of the Emirates, the host of COP-28, to begin to redefine the conversation right away.

I think there’s a strategic opportunity here for the global community and for the energy transition, that these two COPs are holding back to back in these two countries has the potential of addressing the challenges that we have been talking about, the inclusiveness to ensure that no sector is left behind, to address the issue of investment in the industry and to reset the conversation and agree that achieving the climate goals of capping temperature rises at 1.5 [degrees] and the role of oil and gas are not mutually exclusive.

It can be achieved, and I think this is the responsibility that is now on the shoulders of the UAE and Egypt, and we are confident that they will be able to overcome and lead the world to a more sustainable transition, going forward.

EITHNE TREANOR: And thank you so much, and we wish you great joy and great success on your way to the next venture—the next adventure.

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Image: A natural gas flare on an oil well pad burns as the sun sets outside Watford City, North Dakota January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen//File Photo