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With the future of energy in flux, natural gas has emerged as a potentially major player, with production levels trending upward despite signs of moderation in the US shale boom. A panel of industry leaders discussed the role natural gas could play in the energy mix in the short and long term during a session held during the 2020 International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco has made strides in the LNG space over the past year as production soars with the startup of multiple liquefaction plants globally. Last May, the company agreed to purchase a 25% stake in Sempra Energy's Port Arthur LNG terminal, its first move into producing hydrocarbons outside of Saudi Arabia. Early in the year, then-Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the company was looking for additional gas projects in the Arctic and Australia to supply global markets.
This year’s Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), held 6-9 May in Houston, reflected the offshore oil sector’s health and energy, with attendance hitting a 30-year high and the event attracting top industry names from around the world. The globe’s largest offshore industry event attracted 104,800 people, the second highest in show history and up 17% from last year. Exhibitors represented 40 countries.
Panel sessions, keynote speeches, and technical papers spanned the breadth and depth of the oil and gas industry.
At one panel session, energy ministers and national oil company senior executives shared their perspectives on how the industry should adjust to address energy challenges as well as how the role of companies and governments should change to shape the future. The panel was moderated by Gamal Hassan, chief executive officer of ADHIG and OTC Program Chairman.
The panel began with Jose de Vasconcelos, Angola’s Minister of Petroleum, who highlighted the connection between the need for energy and economic and social development. The industry faces many challenges in the quest to obtain energy security, which he defines as an equilibrium between supply and demand. Several challenges must be addressed to meet production needs: technologic, environmental, regulatory, and financial. Angola, he said, will maintain a permanent dialog with other producers to develop a common approach on energy and energy-related issues.
David Ramsay, Minister of Industry, Tourism, and Investment, Northwest Territories, Canada, said that the role of government is to ensure that resources are “developed in a manner that brings economic development while ensuring the environment and its benefits” and at the same time working with industry and regulatory agencies to achieve this. Ramsay said that there is a renewed interest in the Arctic and northern Canada with opportunities onshore and offshore. The Canadian government is building infrastructure to assist in the transportation of fuels.
Petrobras Chief Executive Officer Maria das Gracas Silva Foster said that exploration is a priority, and major investments that have been sustained over several years have resulted in the development of a diversified and competitive goods and services. Petrobras has benefited from a close association with universities to facilitate research in exploration and development, and the recent major discoveries as well as monetization of these reserves are a direct result of the investments in research and universities.