The New World Energy Order

Written by:

Katie Mehnert

Is anyone else dizzy from all the energy news in the past week?! 

Here are some of my takeaways.

The Biden Administration signed executive orders last week to signal his intent to make swift changes around energy.

Meet me in Paris

The first move was to re-enter the Paris agreement, we get the chance to be at the table leading, rather than isolating ourselves. While I don't agree with the original terms — and the many nations have not been held to account — that’s water under the bridge. We should submit what's possible for the USA. Irrespective of Paris, it's good to be a steward to our planet.

Keystone gets cut (again)

The Keystone Pipeline XL permit was cut again. This project has been marred with challenges from the start. But if we look longer term, Keystone is smart for America and Canada to secure national supply for our own interests, without the need to trade abroad and deal with nations we have mixed relationships with. Irrespective of the pipeline, this is massive infrastructure that could undoubtedly be leveraged for something. To let it sit seems, wasteful.

No new permits. No surprise.

Biden halted new permits on federal land and waters, which comes as no surprise. Many companies got the permits they needed before the previous administration left office. If a company says they are letting go because of the permit halt, I have to call it. It's been a bumpy road in this area over the past six years, as we’ve witnessed many layoffs.

It's electric!

The USA is pushing to invest in our grid and EV infrastructure. While he tackles space travel too, Elon Musk is also pioneering electric vehicles before China catches up; in fact, he just announced a $100M low carbon prize this week. Other auto manufacturers are trying to make EV cars mainstream. It’s expensive, but it’s an investment in our future.

America’s transport is its Achilles CO2 heel. If we tackle transport and make electrification happen, it’ll shift us toward continuing to use oil and gas for other things we need it for: medicines, plastics, aviation.

Meanwhile, here’s something no one ever hears: oil and gas companies have been doing a lot to lower carbon, just not fast enough for the court of public opinion. Carbon capture, hydrogen, LNG, offshore wind, solar...there are so many potential pathways.

And if you really want to be inspired about the ways in which we’re moving energy forward toward sustainability, take a moment to look at Baker Hughes’ Vice President and Chief Information Officer Jennifer Hartsock gave at our Energy 2.0 conference last year. 

To sum it all up

The main complexity of the coming shift will be the timing and balance and the markets drive change. It’s going to take time and going take working together, using facts, and moving toward a rational middle. What will make this all go to hell in a microsecond is “left vs. right” arguing, division, and emotion. We need to be allies — listening and learning and then working toward solutions.

I encourage others not engaged to read history, follow industry leaders and the very few media who are qualified to speak and report. I also encourage industry leaders to be an active part of the solutions— teach your kids and students about energy and where their food comes from. Look at your own use. Do something different. Do your part in changing the narrative around the words “clean energy” versus “dirty.” The notion that people are picking a side is nonsense. We all want great clean energy and jobs.  

It’s going to be an epic time, and I’m optimistic that we can transform a very complicated issue into something that’s simply great.

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