Even though the majority of the global population relies on energy from hydrocarbons each day, it’s taken for granted for the most part, noted A.T. (Tim) Cejka, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Co. and a vice president of ExxonMobil Corp.
Here’s the news: That’s not necessarily bad.
“This is the biggest compliment we can get, and one of the greatest measures of the industry’s success,” Cejka told the audience at the recent AAPG annual meeting All-Convention luncheon. “We deliver on promises.”
It’s widely known that the world guzzles more than 80 million barrels of crude oil each day. When you convert this to 40,000 gallons per second, it underscores why just a minor supply disruption -- or even the threat of one -- spooks the oil traders and plenty of other folks.
Cejka’s take on remaining resources is that large volumes remain to be tapped, enough to offer challenges for future generations.
In fact, he estimates global conventional oil resources to be 3.2 trillion barrels. Adding in non-conventional frontier resources ups the total to more than four trillion barrels. These numbers include discovered and undiscovered resource estimates.
From the beginning through today, the industry has produced more than one trillion barrels.
Even though significant volumes of hydrocarbons are estimated to remain, it would be naive to think they’ll be easy to find or extract. They not only will pose considerable scientific and technical challenges, it will require “big money” to find and wrest them from the reservoirs.
“The International Energy Advisory Council estimates the energy industry must invest on average $200 billion each year between now and 2030 to meet the demand in the world,” Cejka said. “All nations are bound to one another.”
Additionally, the global gas market is anticipated to grow as the LNG supply grows.
As the remaining resources become more challenging to ferret out, look for the barriers between the disciplines to become blurred.
Technology breakthroughs will often be found at the interface of the sub-disciplines, Cejka noted. Individuals with breadth and scalability to integrate will be fundamental to the industry’s success in finding and extracting the remaining resources.
Public misconceptions about energy are many and varied, he said. Some of the more obvious are:
- Prices -- Price fluctuations are a fact of life in commodities. Cejka doesn’t expect today’s prices to be reflective of what will be seen over the longer term.
- Energy independence -- This is way far away, if ever, Cejka said. For instance, wind and solar will average double digit growth over the next 25 years, yet wind and solar will account for only 1.2 percent of U.S. energy consumption in 2030.
- Insularity from others -- No nation can insulate itself from the global energy market; energy is, after all, a global business.
Angst abounds about the lack of new talent coming into the industry -- but for those companies evaluating the somewhat rare potential new-hire, it pays off in the long run to look for a lot more than grade point average.
Look for excitement about the industry along with the ability and desire to learn, he said. These traits can help carry the industry through the next down cycle, which some say is inevitable while others still cling to the thought (hope?) that this time really is different.