Energy Blog

Cambridge Energy Research Associates: CERAWeek 2016 Daily Summary: Monday, 22 February




Daniel Yergin, IHS Vice Chairman and IHS Energy CERAWeek Conference Chairman, opened the 2016 conference by presenting Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico, with the IHS CERAWeek Global Energy Lifetime Achievement Award for his leadership on Mexico’s energy sector reform. President Peña Nieto explained that the reform is creating new energy markets, characterized by openness, competition, transparency, and legal certainty, and will proceed regardless of global economic and geopolitical conditions. He announced that in second quarter 2016, the Federal Electricity Commission will put a 372-mile (600 km) high-voltage direct-current transmission line to tender, an investment of $1.2 billion, designed to help Mexico meets its green energy targets. He also said that the fourth part of Round 1 bidding in the hydrocarbon sector (deepwater assets in the Gulf of Mexico) will occur in December. The restrictions on gasoline and diesel imports by non-PEMEX entities will be lifted on 1 April 2016, earlier than the planned date of 2017.

Daniel Yergin led the Monday afternoon discussion on “Energy Markets in Turmoil: The Shape of Things to Come,” with Abdalla Salem El-Badri, Secretary General of OPEC, and Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. Mr. El-Badri and Mr. Birol both agreed that the current crisis in global oil markets is unique in history, being driven primarily by oversupply. They focused much of their remarks on the dangers of underinvestment in the industry in terms of threats to future supply and possible price spikes and “unexpected surprises” that could arise if investment rates remain low.

Daniel Yergin opened the Energy and Technology Dialogue by welcoming Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric. Mr. Immelt discussed the changes he had seen during his tenure as CEO and how they have affected GE’s investments in power, oil, and gas. The importance of analytics and a digital ecosystem came up in many contexts, including the recent relocation of GE’s headquarters to Boston and its acquisition of Alstom. Other key points were GE’s strategy during business cycles and how it has reacted to the current oil and gas cycle. Mr. Immelt concluded by discussing changes in the macroenvironment and how his role as CEO has changed.

Daniel Yergin and Carlos Pascual, Senior Vice President, IHS Energy, cochaired a panel on “Energy Strategies After COP,” with Tord Lien, Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy; Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and CEO of Schneider Electric; and Theodore Craver, Chairman and CEO of Edison International. The panel agreed that meeting the Conference of Parties (COP) agreements decided in Paris would require changes both to the portfolio of generation types and to delivery and storage mechanisms. To coordinate these disparate activities, governments need to provide a stable framework for decision making that removes uncertainty about carbon policy and enables investment in technologies to decarbonize the power sector.

Carlos Pascual chaired the Monday afternoon Global Dialogue session “Financing the Energy Future.” Joining him were Luis Videgaray Caso, Secretary of Finance and Public Credit, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit of Mexico; Stephen Chazen, CEO of Occidental Petroleum Corporation; and Bob Maguire, Managing Director at Carlyle International Energy Partners. The panel focused on the implications of the current industry cycle and how companies will adapt; the relationship between financial institutions and the investment opportunities that have emerged in this market; and the Mexican government's position regarding these developments.

Daniel Yergin welcomed three speakers—John Hess, Chief Executive Officer of Hess Corporation; Narendra Verma, Chief Executive Officer of ONGC Videsh; and Miguel Matías Galuccio, President and CEO of YPF—on “Navigating the Storm” financially, and posed the question, How do you manage in this environment? Mr. Hess emphasized that his company is focusing on cash flow while also “investing through the cycle”—curtailing drilling activity while putting the majority of its capital in long-term development. Mr. Verma’s company is also continuing to invest, mandated by the government of India to seek out new supply to meet fast-growing domestic demand. He said it is looking internationally in many different markets for opportunities as well as beginning to properly assess domestic shale resources. Mr. Galuccio noted several ways in which the new Argentine government is already pursuing reforms that will facilitate near-term investment in the energy sector. He described YPF’s initial efforts to assess and develop shale resources—notably the Vaca Muerta shale—which he described as holding great promise if YPF and international partners continue to invest through the cycle.

In the strategy session “Leading Through the Cycle,” Daniel Yergin was joined by Doug Oberhelman, Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar Inc.; Hirobumi Kawano, President, JOGMEC; and Ulrich Spiesshofer, Chief Executive Officer, ABB Group. The panel agreed on the importance of achieving innovation and cost efficiency in economic downturns. The panel also shared the view that the current oil and gas industry downturn presents a significant opportunity to increase the industry’s competitiveness. Panelists cited examples of how their respective companies are improving technological efficiencies for the industry.