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Oil and gas leaders attending the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston called for a combination of more fossil fuel production and increased renewable energy sources to reduce reliance on Russia, as oil prices soared to unexpected heights following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The CERAWeek conference, which runs from March 7 to March 11, takes place against a backdrop of buyers shunning Russian exports of crude and fuel, creating what could be the biggest disruption in global energy supply in decades. 

Europe focussing on energy security and reliability 

Even though the CERAWeek conference was originally expected to focus on energy transition technologies and a greater role for renewables, many participants focused on energy security and reliability, as several countries, particularly Europe, rely heavily on Russia for fuel.

“What is happening today in Europe is a big wake-up call to a lot of policymakers if they are serious about the security of supply, affordability, and of course, climate change compatibility,” said Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of TotalEnergies. 

TotalEnergies is one of the few oil majors that has not divested from Russia, though Pouyanne said the company is not investing additional capital in the country.

Invasion makes the transition to cleaner fuels more desirable

Several speakers addressed Russia’s invasion, beginning with US climate envoy John Kerry, who called Russia’s actions “abhorrent.” 

“This is a defining moment for this century,” Kerry said. 

He said people must now live with higher energy costs for a time, and that the Biden administration supports an all-of-the-above energy policy that includes natural gas and nuclear power. 

Advocates of renewables say the invasion makes the transition to cleaner fuels more desirable, and that additional fossil-fuel investment now will only increase the world’s dependence on oil and gas at a time when the climate continues to warm.

OPEC meets with US Shale

Meanwhile, officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, met US shale oil company executives on the sidelines of the CERAWeek conference. 

EQT Corp head Toby Rice, Hess Corp CEO John Hess, and Chesapeake Energy CEO Domenic Dell’Osso, among others, attended a dinner with OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo at a restaurant adjacent to the CERAWeek conference site.

Barkindo said after the dinner that attendees discussed how shale producers were focused on delivering profits to shareholders instead of pouring more cash into new drilling.

On March 7, Mohammad Barkindo said OPEC has no control over the events that have led to the run-up in global oil prices and there is not enough capacity worldwide to compensate for the loss of Russian supply. 

“There is no capacity in the world that could replace 7 million barrels per day. We have no control over current events, geopolitics, and this is dictating the pace of the market,” said Barkindo.

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