Energy fundamentals – quo vadis?

Recently, during an interview in connection with Davos 2022, Petronas’ Tengku Muhammad Taufik told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick, “With so much gas being removed from the system, not being available to Europe, so [many] barrels now making its way through different routes – the challenge of ensuring energy security has now taken its position again, front and centre.”

Bingo! He has mentioned the elephant in the room which everyone seems to have conveniently ignored or omitted to mention, for whatever reason. Somehow, no one has had the courage to raise the issue whenever the discussion on energy is made. In particular, when the focus of discussion is on the subject of replacement of existing energy sources and transitioning to renewal energy – which is the flavour of the moment. 

It’s as if a kind of mass amnesia was induced by the hypnotic chant of energy transition and drowned by the chorus of replacement by renewable energy. Granted that Tengku Taufik was making a comparison between the focus at the start of the year – and for some while before that, and the current situation where many companies’ primary focus was on the question of transitioning away from traditional fuels towards cleaner energy sources. 

Hardly a day passes by when the word ‘transitioning’ is not repeated like a mantra in every conversation and conference.  But no one seems to understand the basics and fundamentals of energy. 

Actually, kudos to Tengku Taufik for he dared to touch on a very fundamental question on the subject of energy in general.  Irrespective of the source of energy – from the flint and stones days, to the rubbing of two sticks together, to the harnessing of wind energy to sail across the oceans, the invention of steam engines to drive cross continental locomotives, coal powered plants, and to the current oil and gas era, and the recent onset of renewable energy sources – the fundamental question has always been energy security and reliability. 

The question of energy security or specifically the absence of it could mean a matter of life or death.

Imagine people living in tough climes (extreme hot and extreme cold) where the energy supply and security is unreliable, how difficult will things be?  Or have we forgotten the days of the Arab Oil Embargo and it’s consequences to consuming nations and their economies?  Or the Fukushima nuclear plant accident and emergency shutdown on the back of the earthquake which affected and continues to affect the Japanese energy security situation?

Therefore, energy security and reliability has to be brought back squarely, in the words of Tengku Taufik, to the “front and centre” of all conversations on energy supply, utilisation, distribution, and transitioning, for that matter.  This is because it was, is and will remain to be the key and paramount consideration when talking about energy sources.

Unreliable energy supply, in whatever form they come, is totally undesirable. And unacceptable.  Anyone for or appreciates being in blackouts, or with frequent power failures or outages or being caught in stalled and abandoned transportation systems?

Reliable and secure energy supply is a fundamental not to be ignored.  Ignore it at your own peril and inconvenience.

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