The three-day International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC) hosted by Saudi Aramco kicked off Jan. 13 in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, hosting more than 40,000 attendees from 70 countries.
In an official press release, Amin H. Nasser, president and CEO of Aramco, stressed the need to transition to a lower-carbon energy mix and highlighted the role of the energy industry in economic development.
“We have the capability to be leaders when it comes to addressing the need for more energy with less emissions and I am confident that our industry has the talent and the innovative mindset, which is required to find the best and most pragmatic solutions,” Nasser said.
Speaking at a panel session during the opening day of the conference, Bahrain’s Oil Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said that an abundant supply of oil, currently seen amid rampant U.S. shale production, might not be reliable moving through 2020, CNBC reported.
“Going forward, all eyes are on U.S. production again, if there’s going to be an extra million barrels [of production a day],” said Al Khalifa. He added that this will suppress oil prices but the current indicators of rig counts point toward challenging times ahead.
U.S. crude oil production is expected to average at 13.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2020, an increase of 900,000 bbl/d compared to last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Production growth in the U.S. for 2020 is expected to be slower than 2018 growth of 1.6 million bbl/d and 2019 growth of 1.3 million bbl/d. The deceleration in growth is driven by the EIA’s expectation that rig counts will continue to fall into 2020. Despite the projection, the EIA forecasts production will continue to grow in the U.S. as rig efficiency and well-level productivity rises.
Al Khalifa also noted on Jan. 13 the lack of major oil discoveries recently and decling investments in future projects.
“I think the future is challenged in terms of supply, more than people expect today,” he said. Investments are not as “bold as they once were,” he added cautioning that the inflection point could be near. As a result, he believes producers could face a challenge in meeting the rising energy demand.
Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., said the challenge of the current situation of ample supply is to “make sure you can produce this supply at the lowest cost and that you’re competitive, irrespective of where the volatility in any one year takes you.”
“Certainly, from our perspective, that’s how we think about the business,” he added.
Woods believes oil demand is expected to grow in the coming decades. However, the industry will see lots of ups and downs from a supply standpoint.
Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said that while OPEC is closely watching U.S. shale oil inventories, he is more concerned that producers work together so the energy market ecosystem was not undermined.
“We’re not focused on shale oil particularly,” he said. “I’d hate to see our endeavor and work in OPEC being challenged by any producer, because at the end of the day we are supporting the industry and we are supporting all producers and we’re welcoming everybody, as long as they are efficient producers.”
Commenting on the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani earlier this month, which triggered a regional conflict, Abdulaziz said: “The president of the United States is the president of the United States; he can do whatever he wishes.” He also added that the U.S. is a strategic partner and has a big role to play in international security.
“As tensions remain high in our region, the Kingdom will continue to do all it can do to ensure stable oil markets,” Abdulaziz said.
OPEC Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo also applauded Saudi Arabia’s efforts in playing a leading and responsible role in the stability of global oil markets. Speaking on the sidelines of the IPTC, Barkindo told Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia’s leadership in stabilizing global oil markets is not only limited to the OPEC system, but also includes cooperation with both producers and consumers.
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