Roundtable Report: Oil and Gas Perspectives in the 21st Century: Can We Predict Anything?
The roundtable debate opened at London's ESCP Business School and Research Centre for Energy Management (RCEM) on Monday 17th February.
Dr Patrick Gougeon, director of the London campus suggested to be cautious with oil and gas supply and demand forecasts 'because in the past we have always been wrong.' Dr Valsios Voudouris, who organised the Chatham-House-style roundtable responded by saying, 'Yes, uncertainty is a challenge, but we need to make some scenarios. Models and predictions based on information available at a time t, even if it's not 100% accurate, can help energy policymakers and watchdogs to assess the risks in each country and therefore make valuable investment decisions.'
Investments in infrastructures are needed
Indeed, urgent decisions need to be made over the energy related infrastructure projects across Europe. According to Dr Voudouris, countries are lacking gas and electricity connections in order to achieve a single European market. He went on to say, 'I don't see any obstacles arising by 2035 in terms of natural gas supply. I believe we'll be able to meet these demands at a global level, with less dependence on the Middle East's supply.' However, Dr Voudouris illuminated that there are some supply access inequalities and unbalances at regional levels. This is because not enough investors are participating in qualitative gas infrastructure development. Investigating the current infrastructure landscape, depressed economies such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal need priority investments.
On 14 October 2013, the European Commission has allocated a €5.85 billion funding budget for a list of 248 qualified key energy infrastructure 'projects of common interest', including gas infrastructure projects. Dr Voudouris argued that there is a serious need for a central pipeline network in these southern Mediterranean countries. 'We need to think of connecting Western Europe with Southern Europe through Serbia and Croatia.'
Recently new gas producers in the East Mediterranean regions have sprung forth including Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. These countries feel under pressure to boost domestic natural gas discoveries before natural gas prices fall further. A study from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) published in August 2013 underlined the investment needed for these countries with the assumption of an expected 32% population growth between 2012 and 2030. However, these countries represent less than 1% of the world's total proven reserves of oil and gas.