Energy Exec Charts the Future of Global Energy
HOUSTON, May 23, 2013 — In seven short years, the U.S. should have the capacity to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to other countries, and it should be self-sufficient in oil by 2030.
That’s according to William Colton, vice president of corporate strategic planning for ExxonMobil, who recently gave an overview of the world’s energy outlook until the year 2040 to guests of Asia Society Texas Center.
“Ten years ago we were going to have to import gas at great expense to meet our needs, and now we have our own gas at affordable prices,” Colton said. “Citibank estimates the value of this gas to the U.S. economy equals $600 million a year—that’s a huge stimulus without any government money involved.”
Colton began his presentation by noting today’s energy picture could best be called “A Tale of Two Worlds.”
“That’s because the energy picture right now lies in the difference between developing countries and the developed world,” Colton said. “Developing countries need more of everything … more oil, more gas, more coal, and more nuclear power, because they’re trying to keep up with their growth. In the developed world, we see a very different picture. We see a rise in the production of natural gas and renewables.”
Colton analyzed growth rates in four different categories of energy: coal, gas, nuclear power, onshore wind, and solar.
These energy sources fuel the demand for electricity, industrial applications, transportation, and residential needs. Of these, the demand for electricity will surpass all other types in the years leading to 2040, Colton said. He predicted the world will require 85 percent more electricity between now and then. But, he also described how gas provided more energy than we realize. For instance, a simple “gallon of gas can power an iPhone every night for 20 years.”
Colton also discussed the specific energy needs of countries within Asia. Not only are countries like China and India reliant on energy imports today, but they will become even more so in the future, he said.
“China will need to get 80 percent of its oil from the outside,” Colton said. “And they will continue to have a large need for natural gas. While they have some of their own, they’re going to need to import it.”
The answer to the dichotomy between the world’s energy suppliers and its users lies with world trade, Colton said. He noted that world trade systems allow companies to move energy where it’s most needed.
“We have a great trade record in this, and particularly for the Asian region, this flow of energy is critical,” Colton said.
According to him, three challenges currently face the energy industry in America.
“We have challenges in educating the next generation, particularly in science and math; challenges in developing policies that will help us work together more constructively; and we have challenges internationally to make sure America’s success story is part of a global success story,” Colton concluded.
His predictions are based on an annual survey conducted by ExxonMobil, which analyzes energy usage and production in 100 different countries. He noted the most unpredictable factor in the annual survey is the role of government and its policies. He stated that overall he is extremely positive about the energy resources available in the U.S., and the country’s ability to harness that energy.
Reported by Sandra Bretting