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New energy frontiers: what role for hydrocarbons in global energy security? [WP1111]


Context and aims

Whilst many governments and energy companies increase the development and use of renewable energy as part of a move towards a low carbon economy, the transition to sufficiency in renewables is likely to remain some decades away.  Securing continuous supplies of oil and gas are therefore expected to remain critical to global economic growth for some decades.  Some analysts believe that the production of traditional sources of oil and gas is nearing a peak whilst demand continues to rise.  Current political instabilities in the Middle East risk supply of existing sources and increased domestic consumption of these economies may also affect global supplies.  Japan’s nuclear crisis adds uncertainties to the future of nuclear energy.

According to the International Energy Agency, oil and gas production from new sources or using new methods are set to play an increasingly important role in world energy supplies up to 2035.  These sources include heavy and extra heavy oils, shale gas, deepwater deposits and alternatives to oil and gas derived from gasification or coal-to-liquid technology.  The rate at which such resources are exploited will be determined by economics, the environmental impacts of development, and policy considerations such as securing supplies.

Further international discussion is needed about the role such sources of hydro-carbons will play in overall global and regional energy security, the impacts of their extraction, including CO2 emissions in production, and the national and international frameworks that will guide development. This conference will contribute to this discussion at the geostrategic, political and policy level.

Themes discussed

The role of unconventional sources in global energy security in the next twenty to thirty years, and what role they are likely to play en route to the transition towards a low carbon economy.

The risks and benefits of different sources of hydrocarbons; Canadian oil sands, shale gas, and other fuel (oil shale, coal to liquid).

The greenhouse gas emissions and environmental consequences of increasing production from unconventional sources; the ways in which these can be anticipated;
The role of governments as regulators.

Taking part

This conference invited energy related policy makers from energy producing and importing countries, energy companies, financiers and other companies involved in supplying technology and infrastructure and  analysts, academics, and representatives from NGOs

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