I recently attended CERAWeek 2017 which took place in Houston, Texas. This annual gathering drew more than 12,000 attendees including energy industry leaders, experts, government officials and policymakers, leaders from the technology, financial, and industrial communities – and energy technology innovators.
My attendance was part of the Agility delegation that included several senior-level representatives from various parts of the Agility enterprise including Project Logistics, Tristar, GIL Abu Dhabi, and Agility Africa.
With innovation and technology at the forefront of CERAWeek, the conference offered several panels that discussed issues that face the global oil and gas industry, namely: the relationship between energy and the environment, the future of manufacturing, technology and infrastructure, economic challenges and price volatility, and the future of LNG exports and its impact on world markets.
Darren Woods, Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, joined the “Global Oil Dialogue” by sharing his interest in emerging technologies and reducing emissions. According to Mr. Woods, ExxonMobil has been focusing on innovative technologies that are environmentally friendly with the understanding that there needs to be a balance between the energy industry expansion and environmental policies.
Later that day, I attended a panel titled “Adapting to the New Energy Era” which focused on the oil and gas industry, specifically on how to do more with less. There was a lot of discussion concerning shale oil, and its viability in today’s market, mainly because of new techniques and technologies, reduced cost, and reduced production time.
Another interesting discussion took place during the “Energy Innovation Pioneers” panel. It is evident that innovations have been reducing the cost of renewables, and enabling the increased penetration into existing markets, such as the power sector, as well as new markets, such as transportation. On the panel was Thomas Healy, CEO of Hyliion. Agility is an investor in Hyliion and its promising technology that reduces fuel consumption by 30% for the trucking industry.
There was a lively panel discussion on LNG (Liquefied National Gas). The panelists discussed future forecasts, and stated that the demand for LNG will be doubling in the next 15 years, despite its plummeting demand due to excess capacity and low oil prices. With that in mind, industry leaders must look at LNG projects as an ecosystem that affects local communities as well as the environment.
In a related dinner address, Canadian Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau spoke about Canada’s energy sector. Canada has the third largest oil reserves in the world, and has three major pipelines under construction. These projects ensure North America’s energy security for many years to come. Canada is working hard to get ahead of the energy power curve, and it is actively preparing for the future while protecting the environment. According to Mr. Trudeau, environmental leadership and economic growth go hand and hand.
Finally, Agility Africa’s very own Geoffrey White joined the panel on Africa’s economic growth. In Africa, low oil prices have stimulated a focus on better execution and innovation. To be successful in Africa, Geoffrey said: “Local capacity is key. That’s why 98% of our people are locals. Our tech solutions in cargo visibility and analytics help de-risk Africa, opening markets to global business.” The bottom line is that there has been a slowdown in the flow of capital for major projects over the past two years. However, things are looking good for those who are willing to invest now ahead of the next surge, which is surely coming.