Oil Giant Prepares for End of Oil

Oil companies must prepare for the end of the hydrocarbon age as renewable energies grow in the coming decades, warns the chairman of the second largest oil company in the world.

NEW YORK, New York, US, 2001-10-10 [SolarAccess.com] “One thing I am convinced of is that the next 50 years is not going to be more of the same,” says Phil Watts. “We could see an evolutionary progression, the so-called carbon shift, from coal to gas, to renewables, or possibly even to nuclear.” Watts is chairman of the Committee of Managing Directors of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies. He emphasized that his comments at the launch of the Group’s latest Long Term Energy Scenarios, were not predictions but a challenge of a range of assumptions. Shell has pledged to spend up to US$1 billion in the next five years to develop new energies, primarily solar and wind energy. BP is also trying to develop an environmentally friendly image, while the world’s largest oil firm, Exxon, has concentrated on oil and gas interests. Watts outlined what he described as two “challenging and thought provoking ideas” as to how the energy market could develop. The first was the transition to renewables, while the second involves a hydrogen economy based on fuel cells, advanced hydrocarbon technologies and carbon dioxide sequestration. Oil currently provides 40 percent of primary energy use in the world, and will drop to 25 percent by 2050. At that time, Shell estimates that natural gas will still be in second place, at 20 percent. “In the medium term, natural gas will move centre stage to become what I call the bridging fuel to get us from where we are now to where we will be in the future,” he explains. “Expanding the use of natural gas is perhaps the single most important way of responding to the issue of climate change.” “However, it goes further than this,” he concludes. “One in five of the world’s population does not have access to supplies of commercial energy. It is our goal to contribute to the development of an affordable sustainable energy system which will help reduce this sort of inequality.”
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