Fossil fuels to remain the dominant energy source - Sigonney, Total

16 November 2011 17:03  [Source: ICIS news]

PARIS (ICIS)--In the long term, the dominant role of fossil fuels in energy provision will remain the same, while the contribution of biofuels will be limited, French petrochemical giant Total’s chief economist Pierre Sigonney said on Wednesday.

In a speech at the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Aviation Fuel Forum, Mr Sigonney said that fossil fuels currently provide 80% of the global energy balance and that he expected this to decrease only marginally to 76% by 2030.

Total therefore predicts that crude oil prices will not decrease significantly in the long term, remaining at levels of at least $80-90/bbl, with strong demand from Asia determining oil prices, rather than the US and Europe where demand is decreasing in light of attempts to increase fuel efficiency. 

Sigonney added that there were still enough resources to use oil for up to another 50 years as significant oil reserves remain to be exploited and there are new resources available in different regions.

He identified these new resources as heavy crude oil supplies in Canada and Venezuela and also shale oil supplies in the US.

Furthermore, improvement in the oil recovery rate is likely because of progress in technology.

“Hydrocarbons will be the dominant fuel source for the coming decades,” Sigonney said.

However, the role of biofuels will remain marginal, providing around 1% of energy, according to Sigonney.

He said the reason he expected growth of demand for biofuels to be limited was because of the competition for their feedstocks from food uses.

Furthermore, the move from first generation biofuels to second generation biofuels – which use cellulosic technology to turn biomass into alcohol – will be difficult, he added.

Sigonney said this is because second generation biofuels are still at the relatively early research stage, meaning they will not be playing a significant role in energy provision come 2030.

Despite the small role for biofuels that he foresees, Mr Sigonney said he believes that CO2 emissions can still be reduced in future, adding that high crude oil prices are the best way to limit carbon emissions and energy consumption.

“High oil prices mean you are able to change the habits of the consumer,” Sigonney said.

He added that robust crude oil values will mean consumers will be more likely to invest in fuel efficient vehicles and use energy more carefully.

($1 = €0.74)

By: Sarah Trinder
+44 20 8652 3214

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