[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the August 2021 issue of Oil and Gas Investor magazine.]

Don’t doubt it for a minute: Our fate ultimately comes down to the same old thing—global oil demand. There are so many well-intentioned analyses, bold projections, passionate debates or ugly protests against fossil fuels, emissions, global warming, politics, returns, whatever, floating around, but the industry’s fate still comes down to what level of oil demand there is now, and what it will be in the future. Steady as she goes, declining slightly, rising slightly?

U.S. producers will be essential workers so long as there is sufficient oil demand. The question is, how will these producers meet that need in light of declining fields, net-zero goals, pipeline opposition and capital availability challenges? Which producers will do it?

In recent days, events show that as always, just as since its formation in 1960, headlines about OPEC deliberations can whipsaw oil prices and equities. Nothing new there. At press time, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia reached a compromise on quotas for the UAE, and the latter then said it will support extending the current OPEC+ supply agreement from April 2022 through to December 2022. This is good news, unless more oil coming to market skews the price again.

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