Director's Blog

June 2022

Image of Qasem Al-Kayoumi


Dear colleagues,

Over the last several years the fossil fuel industry was challenged by a series of turbulent events starting with the 2015 price collapse, on to the COVID19 pandemic, followed by a hostile anti-fossil fuel sentiment that was further exacerbated by IEA’s call for net-zero target and compliance, and then lately the war in Europe. The good news, the industry, once again, has proved to be resilient and agile, thanks to the amazing wise management by OPEC and OPEC+ led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These events have provided the world with two important undisputed realities.

First, while fossil-fuels are not as popular as we would have wished them to be, they are irreplaceable and will continue to take up a major share in the energy mix in the foreseeable future. Fossil fuels will remain the cheapest, most cost-effective, and most reliable sources of energy in the foreseeable future where energy alternatives are either costly, high risk or unreliable. Shifting towards cleaner energy would need to be carried out through a gradually managed and carefully executed transition plan without disturbing the current energy balance. Tampering with the balanced global energy ecosystem has shown to trigger adverse ramifications around the globe as we have seen lately by the unfortunate events happening around the world. Furthermore, there has been an acceptable growing conviction that fossil-fuels and specifically natural gas would be the main vehicle to facilitate Energy Transition. As a result of such belief, a good number of NOCs and IOCs have already started their self-transformation journeys into Energy organisations widening their portfolios to include hydrogen and renewable energy projects. Others started putting more focus on gas exploration and ramping up their LNG shipping fleets in preparation for the new energy landscape. Companies that are slower in riding the wave sooner or later will realise this is a matter of survival. The new disciplines and skills associated with Energy Transition and decarbonisation of economies are enriching the portfolios of IOCs and NOCs. The fossil fuel industry has the capital, the knowledge, and the skill base as well as the passion to achieve these objectives for their own survival. Energy transition is a challenge that is welcomed by the fossil-fuel industry because it will open new horizons and opportunities for new skills related to Carbon Capture and Underground Storage, Hydrogen, Circular Carbon Economies, bio-waste treatments and other initiatives.

Second, petroleum engineering and earth sciences skills needed to extract fossil fuels from under the ground in the most efficient, cost-effective, safe, and sustainable manner would continue to be in demand. Continued enrolment in Petroleum Engineering and Earth Sciences would need to be maintained at certain levels to avoid experience gaps and to ensure continuity. The drive to advance the industry towards the 4th industrial revolution world would need to be accelerated to stay up to date with other sectors. This is a tough challenge given the declining enrolment of new students in the disciplines due to fluctuating oil prices coupled with an unfair anti-fossil fuel sentiment. The matter would need to be addressed by all stakeholders but that is another topic for another article.

It is important for all of us to realise that SPE is not immune to the above challenges that are reshaping the face of the energy landscape. For SPE to continue to remain a powerful society, it would have to continue to read the future energy trends accurately and adapt to changes side by side with the industry trends. While companies and countries need to strike the difficult balance between investments for economic recoveries vs environmental compliance, SPE in parallel would also need to strike a balance between industry needs and members’ needs. In other words, going forward, as SPE accommodates new relevant Energy Transition disciplines into its remit, it must not lose focus of the much-needed oilfield technology skills that are crucial to produce oil and gas fields.

Change is inevitable and so we all need to ensure that SPE moves in the right direction to play a proactive role in leading the industry through Energy Transition by providing the best knowledge database as well as the necessary communication and networking platforms required for knowledge sharing and dissemination and networking, as it has done for upstream during the past century. SPE’s ability to undertake this transformation would depend not only on its Leadership and Management team but will depend largely on how contented members are with the added value the society has brought into their careers.

To foster engagement between members and the industry and to promote ownership, members are encouraged to enrich SPE’s mailbox with feedback and ideas to help SPE properly understand members’ needs and react accordingly. This is a difficult task the society and its board are willing to carry for the best interest of all. Members can rest assured that SPE is determined to continue serving the community at large and to honour its mission and vision no matter what path the Energy Transition takes.

In conclusion, I would like to urge SPE members to continue supporting SPE activities and events, to renew memberships, and to promote and encourage energy professionals to join us in order to make SPE, The Energy Society of choice.

Thank you.

Hisham Zubari
MENA Regional Director