In ExxonMobil’s recently released “Global Outlook: Our view to 2050” report, a compelling narrative emerges: oil and natural gas are not fading into obsolescence in the world’s energy mix. Instead, they are poised to remain indispensable, constituting more than half of the global energy supply for decades to come.
Exxon’s report underscores the unparalleled utility of oil and natural gas in meeting the world’s energy requirements. These fossil fuels are praised for their energy density, portability, accessibility, and affordability. Moreover, they serve as essential raw materials for a myriad of products that are integral to our daily lives. This enduring role, according to Exxon, is forecasted to persist, necessitating sustained investments to counter the natural depletion of production, which annually diminishes by 5-7%.
One significant revelation from the report is the expected decline in oil consumption for personal transportation. The rise of electric vehicles (EVs) is set to alter the landscape of passenger car transportation. However, oil will remain essential for industrial processes and heavy-duty transport such as shipping, long-haul trucking, and aviation, which are the bedrock of economic growth.
The report posits an intriguing scenario: even if every new passenger car sold worldwide in 2035 were an electric vehicle, oil demand in 2050 would still hover around 85 million barrels per day, akin to the levels observed around 2010.
Meanwhile, natural gas is poised for substantial growth, with its use projected to surge by over 20% by 2050. This upswing is attributed to its role as a reliable and lower-emissions fuel source for electricity generation, hydrogen production, and heating in both industrial processes and buildings.
The report also delves into the changing emissions landscape. Despite a higher-energy future, driven by the ascent of renewables and the decline of coal, coupled with enhanced energy efficiency, the world is on course to produce significantly fewer carbon emissions than at present. Energy-related CO2 emissions are forecasted to peak at over 34 billion metric tons sometime in this decade before dropping to 25 billion metric tons by 2050.
Exxon said that this achievement is especially noteworthy as it coincides with an anticipated global economic growth of over 100%. It underscores the substantial progress expected in reducing emissions. However, the report emphasizes the need for more aggressive measures to meet emission-reduction targets that would curb global temperature increases to below 2°C. The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) lower 2°C scenarios envision emissions falling to approximately 11 billion metric tons by 2050.
Given the burgeoning energy demands anticipated in 2050 to support the economic development of the world’s developing nations, ExxonMobil underscored the continued importance of an abundant supply of energy-dense fuels. These fuels, led by oil and natural gas, will remain imperative in navigating the global energy landscape through the mid-century mark.