Saudi Aramco, GE Power speak at World Energy Congress

Posted on 14 October 2013

DAEGU, South Korea, October 14, 2013

In the first keynote speech of the World Energy Congress, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco, Khalid A. Al-Falih, and President and CEO of GE Power & Water, Steve Bolze, summed up the energy challenges of the coming decades.

The duo put forward a line-up of solutions — from greater investment in education and technology to support for free trade and intellectual property.

Khalid Al-FalihAl-Falih, whose state-run company ranks first among oil companies worldwide in terms of crude oil production and exports, told the audience that the energy market has become more dynamic and confident than ever since the last World Energy Congress in Montreal in 2010.

That makes Korea an ideal location for the conference, he said. “The key ingredient has been the energy of the Korean people,” he said. “And that provides the perfect backdrop to this Congress, where harnessing all the energy at our disposal will be fundamental to future success.”

But, he added, challenges remain. By 2050, the global economy will be three and “hopefully” four times larger. “More people and affluence mean more mobility, more urbanization, and more demand for durable and consumable goods. That in turn will drive consumption for fuels, electricity, and chemical feedstocks; and therefore energy.”

“But it is not preordained that demand has to rise to unsustainable levels, even if we provide everyone with sufficient energy,” he said.

Al-Falih called for the supply side of the energy market to move towards what the WEC calls the “jazz scenario,” a more decentralized system to ensure energy access, affordability and quality of supply. He advocated more progressive and pragmatic policies, including greater and long-term investments, ensuring market stability, enhancing the competitiveness of renewable energies, the need for cleaner and lower priced fossil fuels, safer nuclear plants, and an attitude of collaboration among global energy actors.

He added that Saudi Aramco and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have established a research partnership, looking into carbon capture and converting CO2 into useful products.

Steve BolzeBolze, the second keynote speaker, delivered a message emphasizing a number of recent developments: the rise of “brilliant machines” that can process massive amounts of data and increase productivity, the increased prominence of natural gas as an energy source, the importance of “distributive power” as the global energy market becomes decentralized, and the coming age of mainstream renewable energies such as wind power.

Putting forward policy proposals, Bolze advocated support for free trade, the protection of intellectual property to encourage entrepreneurs, and greater backing for education and training.

The pair then sat down for a 10-minute discussion with moderator and WEC Secretary General Dr. Christoph Frei, who asked about uncertainties in the global market and the shale gas revolution. “Uncertainty has been part of the landscape since our beginning,” said Al-Falih, adding that Saudi Arabia has taken on a policy of “extra capacity” to cushion the market from global swings.

This news story is based on the Keynote Speeches session at the 2013 World Energy Congress.