WGLC ’17: Gender diversity, technological advances and the ‘disruption’ of the energy industry

HOUSTON — Where the state of the energy industry is and how gender and diversity affects it was the focus of Hind Farag’s presentation during the opening session of the Women’s Global Leadership Conference Wednesday, Nov. 1 in Houston.

Hind Farag,  global head of commodity analytics research, Wood Mackenzie
Hind Farag, global head of commodity analytics research, Wood Mackenzie

The industry is in a state of flux, Ms. Farag explained, and at the crux is an interplay of multiple transitions, including the role of technology as well as gender.

“The industry today is a result of technological advances either collaborating or competing with each other,” Ms. Farag said.

Multiple technology-induced transitions are underway, Ms. Farag said, and it is dramatically changing the way the industry produces and consumes energy. Playing into the transition is gender diversity, which Ms. Farag said is necessary for the industry to move forward.

Looking at the oil and gas industry, there is a transition to a new world Ms. Farag explains, with a major influence coming from tight oil.

“Tight oil will be a disruptive force for the market until the market reaches a steady state,” Ms. Farag said. “But the flexible, short-cycle nature of tight oil could help stabilize short-term prices one day.”

Examining the question of peak oil demand, Ms. Farag explains that demand could stall by 2030 and that oil feedstock into petrochemicals will grow significantly, driven by plastics demand. The key component to the oil demand slowdown could be the rise of electric vehicles.

“The 2012 cost projections for 2030 have already been realized with significant long-term implications across the value chain of energy,” Ms. Farag said. “But adoption levels are still relatively low.”

In China, Ms. Farag explains, electric cars make up only 1% of car sales, so the adoption is still relatively slow going.

While the peak of oil demand may be in sight, the LNG market will enter an oversupply period, Ms. Farag said.

“LNG supply will be needed from 2030,” Ms. Farag said. “The extent and timing of the oversupply will depend on Asian demand upside.”

Another major disruptor of the energy industry is the advances in renewable technologies.

“Rapid declines in alternative technology costs over the last decade expedite competition with conventional fossil-fired generation,” Ms. Farag said.

According to Ms. Farag, wind and solar energy will grow more than threefold by 2035.

As the world changes and evolves, the industry will also have to evolve, which includes embracing and utilizing gender diversity.

“We haven’t made the progress we need to,” Ms. Farag said. “But looking at where we were and where we are now, it seems there has been progress. The industry needs to enable the power of gender and technology and it can either be disrupted or be the disruptor.”

Ms. Farag is the global head of commodity analytics research at Wood Mackenzie. She joined WoodMac in 2009 to manage the North America Power Service. Ms. Farag has more than 17 years of experience in managing and performing research and consulting services for energy commodity markets. She holds an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in business administration both from the American University in Cairo, Egypt.

The Women’s Global Leadership Conference continues Thursday, Nov. 2.

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