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12th IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks

Wednesday 16 February 2022, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Energy outlooks suggest alternative scenarios depending on the methodologies and assumptions used to estimate the course of demand, supply, and technology choices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase affordable access.

The 12th IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks compared the outlooks prepared by the IEA and OPEC and other government organizations and market stakeholders, and exchanged points of view on their determinants and wider implications for energy security, market stability and sustainable and inclusive growth.

The symposium was divided into three sessions:

  1. Key Findings of the IEA and OPEC Outlooks and the IEF-RFF Comparative Analysis
  2. Energy Security and Market Stability: A Volatile New Normal?
  3. Transitions Pathfinder: Beyond Renewables and Electrification Alone

Guest Speakers

  • HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud

    HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud
    Minister of Energy, Saudi Arabia

  • HE Diego Mesa

    HE Diego Mesa
    Minister of Mines and Energy, Colombia

  • HE Virgil-Daniel Popescu

    HE Virgil-Daniel Popescu
    Minister of Energy Romania

  • HE Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua

    HE Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua
    Minister of Hydrocarbons of Congo, OPEC President

  • Amos Hochstein

    Amos Hochstein
    Senior Advisor for Energy Security, US Department of State

  • Joseph McMonigle

    Joseph McMonigle
    Secretary General, IEF

  • Fatih Birol

    Fatih Birol
    Executive Director, IEA

  • Rafael Mariano Grossi

    Rafael Mariano Grossi
    Director General, IAEA

  • Francesco La Camera

    Francesco La Camera
    Director General, IRENA

  • Mohamed Hamel

    Mohamed Hamel
    Secretary General, GECF

  • Numar Alfonso Blanco Bonilla

    Numar Alfonso Blanco Bonilla
    Executive Secretary, OLADE

  • Ayed Al Qahtani

    Ayed Al Qahtani
    Director, Research Division, OPEC

  • Abderrezak Benyoucef

    Abderrezak Benyoucef
    Head of the Energy Studies Department, OPEC
    View presentation

  • Keisuke Sadamori

    Keisuke Sadamori
    Director of the Office for Energy Markets and Security, IEA
    View presentation

  • John Staub

    John Staub
    Director, Office of Petroleum, Natural Gas & Biofuels Analysis, EIA

  • Richard Newell

    Richard Newell
    President and CEO, Resources for the Future, RFF
    View presentation

  • Lord John Browne

    Lord John Browne
    Chairman, Beyond NetZero,
    Former CEO BP, Author of "Make, Think, Imagine, Engineering the Future of Civilization"

  • Carole Nakhle

    Carole Nakhle
    Director and Founder, Crystol Energy

  • Robert McNally

    Robert McNally
    President, Rapidan Energy
    View presentation

  • Amrita Sen

    Amrita Sen
    Co-founder and Director of Research, Energy Aspects
    View presentation

  • Ken Koyama

    Ken Koyama
    Managing Director, The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ)
    View presentation

  • Irina Gayda

    Irina Gayda
    Director, Energy Centre Skolkovo Business School

  • Fahad Alajlan

    Fahad Alajlan
    President, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC)

  • Sama Bilbao y León

    Sama Bilbao y León
    Director General, World Nuclear Association

  • Bjorn Otto Sverdrup

    Bjorn Otto Sverdrup
    Chairman of the Executive Committee, Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI)

  • Harry Kamian

    Harry Kamian
    Senior Bureau Official, Bureau of Energy Resources, US Department of State

  • Andrea Stegher

    Andrea Stegher
    Vice President, International Gas Union

  • Cosmin Ghita

    Cosmin Ghita
    Chief Executive Officer, SN Nuclearelectrica, Romania
    View presentation

  • Luay Al Shurafa

    Luay Al Shurafa
    President and Managing Director, GM Africa and Middle East

12th IEA-IEF-OPEC Outlooks Symposium Summary Record

This summary reflects the main outcomes of the Twelfth session of the IEA-IEF-OPEC Symposium on Energy Outlooks that the International Energy Forum (IEF) convenes yearly, in collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA), and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The symposium was held in a hybrid format (virtually and in-person) on 16 February 2022 at the IEF Headquarters in Riyadh and convened close to 150 participants including ministers and other high-level industry and government representatives who gathered alongside leading experts to provide a range of insights.

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IEF RFF Outlooks Comparison Report

Sessions were informed by the IEF-RFF Outlooks Comparisons Report which compares the key scenarios and underlying methodologies of most recent outlooks prepared by the IEA and OPEC and places these in the broader context of a growing number of such assessments issued by other organizations such as IRENA, the GECF, companies, national agencies, and research centers.

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Key Observations

Key Points

Comparability Beyond Compare
  1. The impact of energy outlooks on policy and investment decisions and public views of energy trends and transitions continues to grow steadily since the UN Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals were adopted in 2015 to achieve shared goals.
  2. Increasingly diverse outlook findings enrich the energy dialogue but also warrant greater scrutiny and alignment of methods, categories, baseline data, and time frames to improve comparability and deepen understanding.
  3. Though considerable advances have been made by both IEA and OPEC, IEF Ministers should ensure their Agencies accelerate work on aligning conventions and techniques that outlooks are based on and make all data public.
  4. Peer review will bolster the global energy dialogue and improve policy and investment decisions to address challenges regarding energy security, market stability and just and orderly transitions as called for by the G20 Leaders gathered under the Italian Presidency of Italy in Rome.

Long-Term Outlooks Highlights

Widening Gaps and Unprecedented Changes
  1. IEA's SDS, NZE, and APS, envision a world in which demand for all fossil fuels, including oil and other liquids, declines considerably in the coming decades. Many of these scenarios, including IEA's SDS and NZE, as well as Equinor Rebalance, project that global energy demand in 2050 will be below 2020 levels, reflecting a major change in the historical relationship between economic growth and energy demand growth.
  2. The annually growing “gap” in liquid demand scenarios between OPEC's High GDP Growth Case and IEA's NZE Scenario rises to 84.6 mb/d in 2045 reflecting growing uncertainty in respect of security of demand. When other scenarios are considered, the “gap” reaches about 105 mb/d between the highest scenario (EIA Reference) and lowest scenario (IRENA 1.5°C) by 2050.
Global Energy Mix
  1. In IEA and OPEC main scenarios, oil maintains its position as the leading primary energy source globally while IEA NZE is the only scenario where natural gas takes over this role. In OPEC's Reference Case oil slightly decreases from 30 percent in their 2020 baseline to 28 percent in 2045, while IEA STEPS reports a dip from 29 percent to 27 percent in the same period.
  1. In 2050, natural gas demand under IEA's STEPS scenario reaches 4192 mtoe while the OPEC Reference scenario projects 4267 mtoe in 2045, 26 percent and 28 percent over 2020 demand of 3323 mtoe, respectively. The projections from GECF RCS, IRENA Planned, and IEEJ Reference sit higher than these baseline policy scenarios, growing to reach 4810 mtoe, 4845 mtoe, and 4855 mtoe in 2050, respectively. Equinor's Reform has the lowest projection of mid-century natural gas demand of the baseline policy scenarios with 3840 mtoe.
  2. In the more ambitious and ”Paris-aligned scenarios”, natural gas demand flattens or declines in the coming decades. In IEA's APS, natural gas demand remains nearly level with 2020, sitting at 3182 mtoe in 2050. GECF ETS follows a similar trend before natural gas demand begins to dip beyond 2040. IEA SDS and IRENA 1.5°C scenarios fall significantly to 2035 mtoe and 1890 mtoe in 2050, but IEA NZE sees the largest decrease in natural gas demand to only 1450 mtoe.
  1. From 702 mtoe in 2020, nuclear demand under IEA's STEPS scenario gradually reaches 967 mtoe in 2050, while OPEC's Reference scenario projects 1095 mtoe in 2045. The Equinor Reform and GECF RCS scenarios fall between these two projections, reaching 998 and 1030 mtoe by 2050, respectively.
  2. Nuclear demand grows much more rapidly under climate and technology scenarios from these outlooks. In IEA's APS, nuclear demand increases to 1158 mtoe in 2050, a nearly 20% increase over the STEPS projection. The IEEJ ATS has a similarly large rise to 1399 mtoe in 2050. The IEA NZE scenario sees the most dramatic increase of nuclear demand in the period, to 1448 mtoe, nearly a 50 percent increase compared to IEA STEPS. Equinor's Rebalance lands just below IEA NZE with 1311 mtoe in nuclear energy demand by the half century. GECF ETS and IRENA 1.5-S lie slightly lower than other climate scenarios, reaching 889 and 928 mtoe in 2050.
  1. For renewables that include solar, wind, hydropower, biomass, and other renewables, demand goes from 1636 mtoe in 2020 to reach 4598 under IEA's STEPS scenario in 2050, while OPEC's Reference scenario projects 4188 mtoe in 2045. GECF scenarios are all considerably lower. GECF RCS only projects 2769 mtoe by 2050. While GECF ETS and HS project 3174 mtoe and 2787 mtoe, respectively. IRENA Planned scenario lands higher at 4208 mtoe whereas Equinor's Reform is projected to reach 4978 mtoe.
  2. The IRENA 1.5°C scenario projects the highest renewables demand, at 10686 mtoe by 2050, more than a six-fold increase over IEA STEPS demand in 2020. The IEA NZE and IEA SDS scenarios reach the next highest levels at 8649 mtoe and 7558 mtoe mid-century. The APS scenario has still considerably higher demand than the STEPS scenario, with 5933 mtoe projected by 2050, a 29 percent increase over the STEPS projection. Equinor's Rebalance scenario sits lowest among climate policy scenarios with 2050 renewables demand of 5651 mtoe.
  1. While many outlooks show a gradual acceleration into CCUS, GECF HS stands out with the most aggressive CCUS scenario, growing from 80 million metric tons (mmt) in 2025 to 3214 mmt in 2050. IEEJ ATS has a similarly robust projection of CCUS to reach 2128 mmt.
  2. Comparatively, central and some alternative climate scenarios project a slower deployment of CCUS, with the IEA APS, Equinor Reform, and IEA SDS modestly exceeding 500 mmt in 2050. Without additional policy to incentivize carbon capture, the IEA STEPS scenario keeps CCUS constant at less than 1 mmt for the entire period.
  3. Climate target scenarios mostly still follow a gradual build-up of CCUS, albeit with a greater rate of growth. IEA NZE grows to 1186 mmt of CCUS by 2050, while the Equinor Rebalance reaches 2000 mt.

Medium-term Outlooks Highlights

  1. While both IEA and OPEC project demand strong growth in the medium-term, OPEC has a slightly more ambitious expectation for demand growth emerging from the pandemic with a difference of 0.5 mb/d compared to the IEA in 2022. Forecasts converge in 2026 with IEA projecting global demand at 104.1 mb/d compared to OPEC's 104.4 mb/d. While IEA reduced its projections compared to last year, OPEC largely retains a similar outlook.
  2. Both organizations are relatively aligned in their outlooks for non-OECD countries where most demand growth is concentrated. However, estimates for OECD countries diverge in 2023 with OPEC reporting 46.6 mb/d compared to IEA's 45.8 mb/d but forecasts converge towards 2026.
  3. Both organizations offer different perspectives on the medium-term supply picture. While there is relative alignment on growth in 2022, OPEC projects greater growth from 2023 onwards punctuated with a 0.6 mb/d growth in 2026 versus a 0.2 mb/d decline reported by IEA.
  4. Much of this difference is owed to OPEC's more optimistic liquids supply growth forecasts in 2026 for Latin America, Middle East and Africa, and Europe and Eurasia. However, OPEC projects less growth in OECD Americas and OECD Europe compared to IEA and its own projections from last year. OPEC also projects greater non-OPEC growth by 1.2 mb/d between 2020-2026 compared to IEA's 0.7 mb/d with overall supply of 70 mb/d and 68 mb/d, respectively.

Short-term Outlooks Highlights

  1. As an outcome of the collaborative work on historical baseline data, the IEA, OPEC, and the US EIA oil demand and supply base year 2020 data is mutually consistent.
  2. The IEA, OPEC, and EIA estimated global liquids demand growth rates between 5.0 and 6.0 mb/d for 2021. OPEC estimated higher global liquids demand growth, mostly driven by a greater estimate of growth in non-OECD regions while the EIA consistently reported more non-OECD growth over the course of 2021. Liquids demand projections for 2022 show larger differences reflecting the elevated uncertainty related to impact of the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. For 2021 IEA, OPEC, and EIA estimate non-OPEC liquid supply to increase by 0.7 mb/d, 0.7 mb/d, and 0.9 mb/d, respectively. Estimates for growth in 2022 are more aligned, with both the IEA, OPEC, and EIA estimating increases of around 3 mb/d. Notable differences emerge for the OECD Americas, with IEA projecting 0.36 mb/d and 0.48 mb/d in additional supplies relative to OPEC in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The EIA reports even higher estimates than IEA by 0.84 mb/d and .99 mb/d in 2021 and 2022 respectively. The Americas drive differences in the OECD category.

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