CERAWeek returns to Houston after two years, but it may as well have been a century. The changes that the oil industry and the world have gone through over the past two years are unprecedented. And that was before Russia invaded Ukraine.
The last time CERAWeek brought everybody who's anybody in energy to Houston, oil was trading at about $55 a barrel. Oil executives were adapting their businesses to the idea of "lower for longer" and beginning to accept that fossil fuels were a declining business as the world began to do something about climate change.
A pandemic later, all that has been turned on its head. A stubborn glut has become shortage. Oil is trading over $115 a barrel and some analysts forecast that it will come within a stone's throw of $200 if Russia's war on Ukraine leads to supply disruptions through sanctions and other means. Meanwhile, the U.S. shale industry, which could never seem to stop pumping more oil even with middling prices, has finally found the discipline to just say no to more drilling — just when the world desperately needs more oil on the market.
And with average gasoline prices heading above $4 or $5 a gallon — they're already there in some states — tackling climate change is slipping from the top of the energy and political agenda.
All the biggies will be at CERAWeek when it opens Monday, including the CEOs of Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and other oil majors, the energy minister of Saudi Arabia, and head of OPEC as the conference tackles all these issues. Whatever the future of energy was in 2019, it looks mighty different today.
— Rob Gavin, business editor