Photo: Michael Heiman/Getty Images/AFP
With the resumption of economic activity, the demand for oil has rebounded, and the price of oil has regained some of the lost value in recent months
The crisis caused by the pandemic of the COVID-19 had the effect of temporarily reducing the demand for oil. But once the shock wave has passed, the appetite for this fossil resource is expected to rise, in the absence of ambitious plan to reduce our dependence on the black gold, including in Canada. The experts consulted by The Duty judge, however, that it is essential to tackle, in order to limit the disruptions of climate.
The image was strong. In April, near the coast of California, several dozens of tankers were off, storing it in a sea of millions of barrels of oil that were no longer required in the immediate future, due to the impacts of the crisis of the COVID-19. A scenario that is replicated in other coastal regions of the world, and which persists, with at least 150 million barrels currently waiting on ships. Without counting all the oil store on the land.
With the resumption of economic activity, the demand for oil has, however, picked up, and the price of oil has regained some of the lost value in recent months. It must be said that the global demand, which has declined to about 70 million barrels per day at the height of the crisis, is already in growth. The u.s. Agency for energy information provides a daily demand of 84 million barrels over the next few months, while he believed that the gradual lifting of the containment measures should lead to a demand of around 95 million barrels by the end of 2020. By way of comparison, this demand was 100 million barrels at the end of 2019.
This does not necessarily mean that the oil consumption will return to its level of last year or that it will continue its growth in the years to come. Even the big boss of the oil company BP, Bernard Looney (who recently announced the 10,000 layoffs by the end of 2020), “does not dismiss the idea of” a peak production of 100 million barrels, which would last for several years, before a slow decay. The canadian Association of petroleum producers predicted, however there a few months ago, that demand would remain very strong and that it would still be 106 million barrels per day in 2040.
Ce text is part of our “Outlook” section.
Since Canada has the third oil reserves in the world, the companies that are active here would have been well positioned to ship more barrels on the market. But this perspective of maintaining a very high demand, and therefore the sustained development of new oil exploitation projects in Western canada, seems to have receded. “In Alberta, one thinks that one has reached a certain limit, in spite of the many uncertainties. Several economic actors do not believe in the idea that the sector can grow and expand. Even the government from Jason Kenney begins to understand that, even if we do not speak of decay, we do not see more necessarily of major expansion “, summarizes Frédéric Boily, professor at the University of Alberta.
The author of The Alberta autophage, a book that treats of the very close relationship between this province and the oil resources, and Dominique Perron noted, however, that the energy transition that many claim should not rest on the shoulders of Albertans. “It is easy to criticize the oil companies, but we must ask ourselves what we are willing to do. All Canadians need to think about the future. For example, the large canadian cities are not ready for the transition. It is a site of immense and very complex. “
Holder of the chair of management of the energy sector at HEC Montréal, Pierre-Olivier Pineau sees a recovery in the oil sector. A decline could, however, occur in the course of five to fifteen years, ” according to our dynamic collective to try and solve our congestion problems, debt, air pollution, public health and greenhouse gas emissions “.
“The demand for petroleum products will therefore be constrained to a time uncertain in the future, when the mobility will be increased from vehicles to gasoline and diesel largely ineffective solutions for more sustainable mobility : transport by rail, active transportation, shared transportation, electric vehicles, etc., We can speed up or slow down the progression of this sustainable mobility. At the present time, nothing is done to implement in practice. Only policies of good feelings and wishful thinking are developed without significant impact in the short or medium term, ” said Mr. Pineau.
What’s more, ” our past is full of failures to put in place effective plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nothing seems to be done to correct the situation, both in Quebec and in Canada “. Canada is currently in arrears to comply with the commitments taken in the framework of the Paris Agreement on climate change commitments that are insufficient to meet the requirements of the climate science.
Quebec has also failed to achieve its emission reduction targets for 2020. And depending on the edition 2020 of the report The state of energy in Quebec, the daily consumption of oil is now at 365 000 barrels per day, a figure that is up 10 % over the period 2013-2018. It must be said that, “from 1990 to 2017, the fleet of personal vehicles in Quebec has increased by 65 %, an increase nearly three times greater than the provincial growth (+19 %),” the report says. The categories of vehicles that have experienced the greatest growth during this period are light trucks for passengers, including sports utility vehicles (SUV), with an increase of 282 %. And the share of electric or hybrid vehicles remains marginal.
Own growth ?
Beyond the stroke of the brake caused in Quebec by the COVID-19, Pierre-Olivier Pineau notes that ” nothing seems to be put in place to actively change the structure of our mobility. You should fairly quickly return to normal : more SUVS, more heavy trucks on the roads, and a resumption of consumption of petroleum products “.
Frédéric Boily also recalls that the Trudeau government has often defended the oil industry in canada since 2015. It continues to do so, for example, with the start of expansion work of the pipelines, Trans Mountain and Keystone XL, the assistance offered to big companies and the desire to accelerate drilling in the marine environment off the coast of Newfoundland. The minister of natural Resources, Seamus O’regan, is even estimated that the exploitation of petroleum in the marine environment is ” an important element of our future based on the clean growth “.
For Greenpeace and the David Suzuki Foundation, the “growth” happening, on the contrary, by a rapid outflow of the oil. “It is possible to out of the oil, but on condition of having the political will, appropriate investments, to the height of the challenge, and a profound change of habits in the population and the enterprises. Paradoxically, the pandemic, and the economic recovery that will ensue have the potential to create these basic conditions, ” says its co-director, the acting general for Quebec and the Atlantic, Diego Creimer.
This call for a “green stimulus” has been taken up by many scientists, by the united Nations and by the international energy Agency in recent months. It must be said that there is an emergency in the home. In addition to the necessary reduction of our dependence on oil, the climate science has estimated that it will be necessary to bring global emissions of greenhouse gas emissions to zero within 30 years. An immense challenge, because fossil fuels are filling currently 80 % of the world’s energy demand. And this rate has not budged for the past 30 years, despite all the political speeches in favour of the fight against the dramatic changes in the climate.