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- Yaser Saeed Al Mazrouei
In its May 2021 flagship report, “Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector,” the IEA called for no new investments in fossil fuel projects including oil and gas, in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Since that publication, oil prices increased over 35%; prices increased by over 55% since February 2021. Gas prices increased further and faster. Two competing narratives drive the debate: one promoting accelerated transition and abrupt end to hydrocarbon use and the other calling for orderly, gradual transition, minimizing disruptions, price shocks, and volatility. Global upstream faces whiplash between two narratives. Outside the OECD, thrust for mobility and electricity continues to increase, as millions of people in Asia and Africa strive for access to heat, light, and mobility. Is the upstream sector seeing premature underinvestment and could this be reversed? Will this decade bring recurring mismatches in demand and supply, and could this volatility be reduced? What are companies’ upstream strategies, given the drive for capital, operational efficiency, emissions reductions, and financial discipline? How has the industry changed regarding portfolio choices, with close to two-thirds production being short-cycle barrels?