The hype surrounding new ideas and technologies can be such that you might be forgiven for expecting the world you know to change beyond recognition at any minute.
The oil and gas industry is generally of little interest to an outsider, other than for its impact on the environment and prices at the pump.
But the industry itself often wants the outsider — from an ordinary consumer to a potential investor or a government official — to understand the language it speaks, because it’s their behaviour that, in various ways, will determine the trajectory of the industry in its transition towards a lower-carbon future.
Norway’s state-controlled oil and gas company Statoil has been very creative in how it describes one of the most important issues in the industry. Its chief executive Eldar Saetre used an erotic romance novel reference last year, talking about 50 shades of sub-sea yellow. This time, Statoil top executives opted for computer terminology to make their point.
“As it is my last opportunity, the team were slightly concerned that I would do this off script. But sorry – I am going to stick to the script, because we are, of course, on record,” Shell’s outgoing chief financial officer (CFO) Simon Henry told journalists at the beginning of his presentation of the company’s financial results today.
Any outlook covering a period of several decades is surrounded by plenty of uncertainties that could significantly alter its projected trends. That is the key reason why those who compile these outlooks often avoid the word “forecast”, and talk instead about “scenarios” (the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook) and “cases”.