Abdullah Salem El-Badri (second from left), OPEC Secretary General; with Ulrich Benterbusch, (third from left), Director of the Office of Global Energy Policy at the International Energy Agency (IEA); Rainer Seele (right), Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall, and another energy executive during an energy debate hosted by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin.
BERLIN – The global energy market is in flux: “We are experiencing a global race for the most important energy raw materials. A race in which former emerging countries such as China and India are now setting the pace,” said Rainer Seele, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall, at an energy debate hosted by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin.
Seele discussed the current economic and political developments on the raw materials markets for crude oil together with OPEC Secretary General Abdullah Salem El-Badri and Ulrich Benterbusch, Director of the Office of Global Energy Policy at the International Energy Agency (IEA).
All the participants agreed that oil supplies are secured, as it is a well-supplied market.
El-Badri underlines that the world energy demand in 2035 is expected to be more than 50 percent higher than it was in 2010: “Oil will retain the largest share for most of the period to 2035, although its overall share will fall from 34 to 28 percent.” El-Badri stressed the necessity to take technology further: “For the future we need to continually develop technologies in all spheres of the oil industry and employ high-caliber people to explore and produce oil in new areas that are often in remoter, harsher and deeper locations.” The OPEC Secretary General said “we also need management in the oil industry that has the guts to take risks and invest.”
The OPEC states only account for about 40 percent of the global market.
According to estimates by OPEC, oil production by non-OPEC states will be at 53 mb/d (million barrels per day) in 2012 – and thus well over OPEC production. Additional growth is expected in the USA, Canada, Brazil, China, Columbia and Russia. The proven oil reserves of the OPEC states increased slightly last year and make up 81 percent of the global reserves.
Oil will remain the most important primary energy source worldwide for the foreseeable future in the view of energy experts.
Global oil consumption will continue to increase, and according to estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA), from 87 million barrels per day in 2010 to 99 million barrels per day in 2035.
The future rise in demand is being dictated by emerging countries, first and foremost China and India. Experts believe that OPEC’s share in global oil production will increase in future. But they also expect non-OPEC production to grow in the coming years, driven mainly by the developments in so-called “unconventionals” (shale oil).
“There is potential in unconventionals worldwide. But the technical and economic viability of each individual case must be proven,” Seele said.
However, this doesn’t mean European companies and policy-makers can just sit back and watch: “Europe must strengthen its presence at the sources of energy resources – for that is where supply security begins,” Seele said. “Without long-term and reliable partnerships with producer countries, we will lose the global race for raw materials. That also applies to the much-talked-about rare earths. But it applies even more to crude oil and natural gas, yet they are given scant little attention in the current debate about our Germany raw materials foreign policy,” Seele said. Expanding good relations with countries with large supplies of raw materials was a prerequisite for this, he added. “We must continue to invest in reliable partnerships, such as the one we have with Russia, a country rich in raw materials, but we must not forget to develop new partnerships. For us, future growth means a clear commitment to the Arab region. Even if the situation there remains troubled for the time being,” Seele said.
Two- thirds of the world’s oil and gas reserves lie in the strategic ellipsis stretching from the Middle East across the Caspian Sea region to the far north of Russia, and they are mostly in the hands of state-owned corporations. NOCs (national oil companies) have 85 percent of the world’s current oil reserves.
“Today it is not financial resources, but better partnership concepts that are crucial in the race for energy resources,” Seele noted. In this regard Europe needed to concentrate on what it can offer the countries with abundant raw materials: stable markets and companies that prove their worth with technical know-how and operative performance. “A partnership is only stable in the long term and resilient in the future when both sides benefit from it,” Seele explained.
And this is precisely what Wintershall does so successfully, Seele pointed out. “Our projects with international partners in Russia, Norway, Libya and also in the Arab region are good examples of functioning, comprehensive cooperation in the energy sector,” Seele added. “And our expertise from Germany is proving to be an admission ticket to the world of National Oil Companies.” – SG