April 30, 2018 Read More →

Editorial: Nexus of Energy World Is Shifting—From Texas and Oil Toward Asia and Renewables

Houston Chronicle:

You’ve got to wonder if they call it Dezhou Chai in Shanghai. That’s Mandarin for Texas Tea, by the way, and traders in China have set up their own pricing market for the stuff — crude oil.

The establishment of a new trading price shows how the growing Asia-Pacific markets are becoming a key part of the global energy business—at least on the consumer end. With oil nearing $70 per barrel and the 50th Offshore Technology Conference kicking off at NRG this week, booming growth in Asia offers yet another reason to feel good about Houston’s energy future.

Domestic exports have set a 25-year record and are expected to skyrocket over the summer. The United States is on path to be the world’s largest producer, and China has replaced us as the top importer. And whether the guys buying oil relax after work with a Lone Star or a chai tea, you can bet that Houston, as the energy capital of the world, played a role in the process somewhere along the way.

How long until the roles are reversed? It isn’t hard to imagine a future in which the energy industry is defined less by oil and gas than by renewables and batteries. Even some top producers are predicting that peak global demand for petroleum is only a few decades away.

Decades may seem like a long time—until you imagine trying to convince 1980s coal country that it needed to worry about natural gas. At the rate things are going, eventually the energy capital of the world will move across the Pacific. An extensive 2017 report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis described how the Asian nation “will certainly be very comfortable providing technology leadership and financial capacity so as to dominate fast-growing sectors such as solar energy, electric vehicles and batteries.”

By that point, you won’t be able to turn on a light switch, drive a car or run a modern economy without China playing a role in the process. Houston’s expertise in oil and gas becomes an outdated skill-set — our city goes Rust Belt.

So consider this a friendly warning that things can change quickly, and Houston needs to ensure that we remain a global economic nexus. It means leveraging the skills and talents we already have to keep up with new industries, like retooling deepwater rigs for offshore wind power. And we’re still waiting for local investments in battery research, wind, solar and other new energy resources that can match international competitors.

There’s plenty for Houston to celebrate at the 50th annual OTC. If we prepare now, we’ll be able to say the same after another half-century.

More: What Do They Call Texas Tea In China?

Comments are closed.