Energy & Environment

CERAWeek kicks off in Houston with eye on worldwide energy sustainability

The COP28 climate change summit later this year is on the minds of energy industry experts this week at an annual conference in Houston.


Attendees at CERAWeek by S&P Global listen Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., during the weeklong energy industry conference in Houston.

For more than 40 years, CERAWeek by S&P Global has been at the forefront of energy markets. This year, the overarching theme is the energy "trilemma" – sustainability, affordability and security – which brings into scope much larger issues facing the energy industry.

Developing cleaner, more sustainable energy sources will be at the forefront at COP28, a conference being held in November with a focus on climate change, and was a key topic in Downtown Houston on Monday and Tuesday as CERAWeek commenced with nearly 900 CEOs and 5,000 attendees for what is considered one of the most important energy conferences globally.

Herma Prarpoo, an energy leader for North America at Microsoft, said this year's CERAWeek is unique given these pressing issues that need to be addressed.

"When it comes to the trilemma first it's access, especially with a war that is going on today (in Ukraine),” Prarpoo said. “Before the war, it was around 700 million people did not have access to reliable energy and today over a billion people are without access. That number will continue to rise, especially if you do not have an energy transition. There are countries today that depend on other countries for energy, especially when you look at what is happening in Russia. So how can we, I would say, empower countries to have their own energy resources that are renewable? How can we get more hydrocarbon out of the ground and how can we do it cleaner?"

Dan Yergin, the vice chairman of S&P Global, opened the conference and introduced the Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. The main theme of his address was the road to COP28 later this year.

Kristi Pappalardo with the nonprofit Atlantic Council said she was particularly interested in hearing about the upcoming COP28 because of the work the Atlantic Council does at the Global Energy Center across a variety of energy sources such as oil, gas, hydrogen and nuclear.

"The whole net-zero goals that almost every company from technology to finance to oil and gas have these days are within this entire week to reach ambitious climate goals,” Pappalardo said. “And we are doing tons of programing at COP28, and so we are here to hear from everyone about their goals and what their priorities are."

Kairos Aerospace CEO Gregg Rotenberg, whose company has offices in both the Bay Area and Houston, said that although there are several challenges the industry must meet, it is an exciting time to be at the forefront of the energy transition. Kairos helps oil and gas companies find where they are leaking methane and provides a benchmark for traditional oil-and-gas companies to understand how they are doing compared to their peers.

Rotenberg said the scrutiny around methane emissions has never been higher.

"Actually, COP26 was called the methane moment because the world has only recently begun to understand the magnitude of the admissions from oil and gas," he said.

Rotenberg also explained how the technology and science being leveraged to track and fix methane emissions is the most exciting development for the future and the effort to combat climate change.

"The impact the methane is having is concerning, but it's also very profitable for oil-and-gas companies to fix the problem," he said.

CERAWeek continues through Friday. U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm will give Wednesday’s keynote address.

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