As the global priority shifts from energy transition to energy security, how might we collaborate more closely for the collective good?
Along with the rest of the world, the Zeno team has watched events unfold in Ukraine with a mix of shock, horror, and sadness. We also admittedly have watched it in comfort – from a continent away, and feeling little consequence so far beyond rising gas prices. After digesting global headlines, we had the luxury to turn our thoughts to “What does this mean for our customers?” As opposed to “How can I keep my family safe,” and “Where will I find food, water and medical care?”
Drastic measures on a scale not seen since WWII are being taken by governments to inflict pain on the Putin regime, and the energy industry sits at the heart of these measures. Already we see the US and UK banning Russian imports, super majors like Shell and BP fundamentally changing their global footprints, and speculation arising that Europe’s Green Deal could be accelerated by more than a decade in an effort to increase energy independence from Russia. All of these actions were unthinkable even four weeks ago, but now it appears that all options are on the table, many of which could have serious and lasting impacts on the global energy industry.
Governments and major operators will ultimately drive policy and market moves, and the rest of us will need to play catch-up to the new market dynamics. While this could lead to dramatic shifts in the overall landscape, one of our key takeaways through conversations with customers over the past few months is that at the end of the day, the energy businesses we work with are not trying to react to day-to-day market conditions. They are trying to make consistently good decisions, day in and day out. Regardless of geography, size or technological maturity, each one is trying to make decisions in the best interests of their shareholders, their employees, and their broader stakeholders, and we expect this to remain unchanged despite market volatility. What is likely to change, however, is that energy businesses will also have to consider the impact of their decisions on the collective global good, and the geopolitical consequences of those decisions.
Out of this necessary change to focus beyond one’s own interests, and to find a silver lining in an otherwise bleak period in history, we believe there is a significant opportunity to reframe the discussion around the energy transition. Instead of viewing the market as a zero-sum game between traditional hydrocarbons and renewables, it is becoming increasingly clear that the focus is moving to how the industry as a whole can help ensure energy security. Energy security should not be political, and it should not be divisive – humans need access to energy to power modern life, and our collective goal should be to ensure we have reliable, affordable, and sustainable sources of energy to meet this need.
Over time, the mix of energy sources can and will change, but in this time of need, when all options are on the table, it seems reasonable to enlist all energy players – from E&Ps and midstream operators to EV car makers and lithium battery manufacturers to domestic and international policymakers – to pursue this imperative, collective goal. Many of these parties have never had the chance to come together, and are frequently pitted against one another for political gain, as well as funding and investment dollars. That is a missed opportunity because within the energy industry, there are some of the best and brightest minds and billions of investable dollars that could be channeled towards coordinated efforts. Time will tell if leaders can emerge to seize this opportunity, and we very much hope to be a part of these efforts in the months, years and decades to come.