Hello everyone and thank you for joining.
It feels like the last few times we’ve come together, our industry has been on a rollercoaster ride – and as we meet now, it still feels like we’re on the same ride. We just hope we’re almost at the end.
But amid a lingering pandemic, volatile markets and industry upheaval – members of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers have done a phenomenal job. Focusing on the job in hand. Getting the energy where it’s needed. Serving customers and communities.
And we do that despite the noise surrounding us.
I don’t just mean the clang of metal, the drone of machinery or the whirr of helicopters.
I mean the debates and conversations. The many voices discussing the future energy landscape, the rise of renewables, the decline of hydrocarbons.
But when there’s a lot of chatter – sometimes it’s not the conversations you can hear the loudest that matter the most.
But the ones you can’t – the whispers in the corner, the snatched words in the corridor.
And amid the din in our room, there’s one big conversation that we need to be having much more loudly.
It’s about natural gas – and its role in the future energy system.
“Hold on,” I hear you say. “We’ve just been through what some have called a ‘global gas crisis’, COP26 came to a major agreement on methane – and major industry regulators proposed new methane rules. What do you mean nobody’s talking about gas?”
Well, I’ve heard some of that too, and it’s important.
But to my mind – a lot of the conversation we’re hearing misses the bigger picture.
Let me explain.
A short time ago, I was in Brussels for work.
At one event, we were talking about the role of natural gas.
And there was a gentleman there – I won’t say where he worked but let’s just say he wore a suit. And he didn’t want to engage with our industry – at all.
He was disinterested, dismissive. Perhaps a little rude. And made it clear that he felt gas should not be part of the future energy mix.
After the event, as we were packing up, he asked me: “Aren’t you ashamed of working in oil and gas?”
That took me slightly by surprise.
But I told him – “No”. I was proud.
Then he continued: all this talk of the role of gas – it’s just your industry looking for a lifeline.
That was a wake-up call for me – many people see gas as a problematic energy source that might be tolerable in the short-term – but should be avoided in the long-term.
And if we do not change the discussion around gas, we’ll not just be excluded from the conversation – but we may not even be allowed into the room.
If I’m honest, I think a big reason for that is down to our industry – we’ve been a little presumptive.
After all, we know why the world needs gas – and why we produce it. And how it can help accelerate the shift to lower carbon:
In short, it is one of the biggest levers the world has to get to net zero.
Perhaps we’ve assumed everyone else sees it the same way.
But many people don’t.
And that’s a problem.
Not just for our industry. But for the world.
Because if gas is not seen as a viable part of the future energy system – if it is not seen as a solution – then:
So I think we agree that we need to be at the table – part of the conversation and informing decisions.
But if we want that seat – we have to earn it.
And to do that, we need three things:
First, our industry – needs to get our house in order on methane. That’s true all the way along the gas value chain. Because our existence as an industry – our licence to operate – hinges on society accepting what we do.
And we will lose that licence if we don’t get methane under control.
What do I mean?
As you will hear today, IOGP already plays a strong role developing industry standards – and stands ready to assist others in the industry as we work to reduce methane emissions.
Second, as well as tackling methane, we need to take more action on CO2.
Third, we need to work with policymakers. We all have aims we’re trying to reach – whether at company, national or international level.
So we know we can make this work:
And let’s remember, whether we win a seat at the table doesn’t just matter to us.
Millions of people rely on the products we produce.
And billions of people need the world to get to net zero.
So there is no room for complacency. And there is every reason to act.
As I think back to that interaction in Brussels – with that gentleman in a suit saying, “your industry is just looking for a lifeline”.
I remember my response was instinctive. I told him, “it’s not our industry looking for a lifeline. It’s our industry offering the world a lifeline”.
That’s the truth – but it’s not enough.
We need to show him – and the many others in capitals across the world.
And while I’m fairly sure I didn’t convince him, I know we cannot afford to be excluded from the conversation any longer.
So let’s show we’re serious, show we’re in action – win our seat at the table.
And let’s make sure that this is a conversation that we can not only hear – but a conversation everyone is paying attention to.