Top Oil and Gas Executives at World Petroleum Congress Discuss State of Industry and Climate

By Reuters
December 9, 2021 Updated: December 9, 2021

HOUSTON—Oil and gas will remain the dominant fuel source for decades to come, the industry’s top executives said on Wednesday, making their case not to be under valued as governments seek to reduce carbon emissions to address climate worries.

Executives at this week’s World Petroleum Congress in Houston offered a defense of the industry’s efforts to adapt to U.N.-led climate change policies and recommendations, describing government opposition to some new projects as harming society.

Any effort to bar new development “is misguided” and likely to hurt poorer nations, said OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo. Oil and gas also “can be part of the solution to tackling climate change.”

Jim Teague, co-chief executive of energy pipeline operator Enterprise Products Partners, addressed proposals to reimpose a ban on U.S. oil exports. Such proposals ignore there are “people that want a better quality of life, and they don’t really give a damn about climate change,” Teague said.

Developing cleaner fuels were prominent on the agenda of the conference, however. Exxon Mobil Corp and Pioneer Natural Resources pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions from their shale output. Peru also laid out its plan to hold an auction for renewable energy projects.

Oil refiners that supply motor fuels also are moving to develop more biodiesel from plant and animal byproducts. Future refineries “will be more modular,” said Ethan Phillips, a partner with consultancy Bain & Co.

Executives largely steered clear of discussions of emissions from the use of their products, called Scope 3. ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance described the largest U.S. independent oil producer’s approach as focusing on the emissions “we create as a business.”

Industry advocates said energy consumers can make their own decisions on fuels and how to cut carbon emissions.

“For consumers, it is ultimately about choice,” said Frank J. Macchiarola, an official with trade group the American Petroleum Institute.

Several executives, including those who have sharply cut spending on new fossil fuel projects, lamented the lack of investment in new oil and gas projects.

They pointed to the soaring prices in Europe and Asia for gas and power as evidence of how a too-rapid embrace of solar, wind and other energy technologies can harm consumers and disrupt energy supplies.

Developing countries cannot afford to allow the energy transition to raise energy prices, said Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras executive Roberto Ardenghy.

“We have to be careful not to create energy inequality,” he cautioned. “We have to be pragmatic.”

By Sabrina Valle and Liz Hampton. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.