Forces of change buffet energy industry as CERAWeek kicks off

Daniel Yergin has spent decades studying and thinking about the oil and gas industry, writing books chronicling an industry that first began with the ancient inhabitants of the Middle East using thick bitumen that oozed from the ground to build walls and roads and waterproof their ships.

But Yergin, author of the Pulitzer-winning “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power,” said the years ahead will go down in history as among the most pivotal for energy. Hydraulic fracturing, the surge of renewable energy, the global response to climate change, all have come together at the same time to revolutionize an industry that over the past two centuries has started wars and made and lost fortunes many times over.

“There’s probably never been a time when there’s this many different forces of change buffeting the energy industry,” said Yergin. “It leads to questions of uncertainty about what the energy industry is going to look like in the future.

These forces and their impact on ever-volatile commodities markets will be front and center as the 36th annual CERAWeek, hosted by the research firm IHS Markit, opens in downtown Houston Monday. With Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Markit, as master of ceremonies and interviewer-in-chief, the conference has become a see-and-be-seen event for the world’s energy executives – Davos for the oil set, attendees like to joke – with the likes of new Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods and Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid A Al-Falih scheduled to speak.

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