By Sebastine Obasi
Contrary to the impression being created about fossil fuel becoming irrelevant in the nearest future, Austin Avuru, Chief Executive Officer, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, said that there is no cause for alarm as it will account for 53 percent of the world energy demand by 2040.
Speaking at the Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, panel session hosted by the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETEAN) in Houston, Texas, USA, Avuru said, “Even up to 2040, fossil fuel will account for 53 per cent of the world energy demand. What we are seeing is a gradual decline in the total contribution of fossil fuel to the energy mix over time. It is not an overnight elimination of fossil fuel.
“The impression is generally given that the world is fighting a spirited battle to make sure that fossil fuel becomes irrelevant. And in that context, countries like Nigeria that are endowed with fossil fuel, people seem to be peeping out of the window and say you are going to wake up one day and we have no use for your crude oil and natural gas, and we will be laughing at you. You will become such a worthless country because your fossil fuel endowment will become completely useless to the world.”
He explained that what the world is experiencing is a gradual transformation that should not be seen as a curse, but as a solution that is being provided to the world such that by the time we get to the point of decline in the supply of fossil fuel, there will be alternatives to fill the vacuum.
He, however, cautioned, “When you see the demand for energy versus the supply, if we do nothing about oil and gas, you will see that the gap over a 20 year period will lead to a catastrophe.”
The Seplat CEO also explained that Fossil fuel was always known to be a finite resource, which means that the world, over the last 100 years, knew that there will come to a time where decline in the supply of fossil fuel as energy source will set in.
According to him, “As we move beyond 2030, 2040 and 2050, the energy mix will continue to be guided by availability, commercial consideration; which means, even for fossil fuels, countries will pay attention to cost because fossil fuel will have to be able to compete, the same way renewable will have to be able to compete.
“Those days in the 70s, there was a prediction by the International Energy Agency that between 2012 and 2015, we would get to peak oil. Peak oil means that, beyond that point, we will begin to see a decline in the world production. Thanks to technology. That date has been shifted forward. Peak oil will come. We have only shifted it forward because of technology.
“Today, technology has enabled us to get crude oil and natural gas out of shale. Those of us who are geologists have always known that, there was crude oil in shale, but shale didn’t have the permeability to release it. What technology has done through tracking is to induce that permeability to release the crude oil and natural gas from shale. Thanks to technology, because we have seen additional sources of crude oil and natural gas that moved backwards the date for peak oil.
“What we are seeing today is a very sensible scientific move by the world and by the advanced technologies of the world to start developing that alternative to fossil fuel because the day will come when there will be no fossil fuel.’
“What we are seeing is a gradual transformation that should not be seen as a curse, but as a solution that is being provided to the world that by the time we get to the point of decline in the supply of fossil fuel, there will be alternatives to fill the vacuum.
“The point I am making and the point to take home is that there is no gang up by the world to make fossil fuel irrelevant. What the world is doing, is to start in a timely fashion to develop the alternatives that must come when fossil fuel delivery in the world energy mix starts to decline,Avuru added.