Working together to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy
World Energy Outlook

29 May 2012, Economic Times, India

A boom in unconventional natural gas over the next 20 years could see the United States and others benefit from cheaper energy while the importance of the Middle East declines, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday. Growth in shale and other newly available forms of natural gas in the United States and China could match gains made in conventional gas in Russia, the Middle East and North Africa combined, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol told Reuters in an interview. "Unconventional gas will fracture the status quo, and will be a complete game changer with major geopolitical implications," Birol said.

29 May 2012, Yomiuri, Japan

Dr. Fatih Birol, Chief Economist of International Energy Agency (IEA) told in his interview with Yomiuri Shimbun, "nuclear power has supplied inexpensive electricity in Japan, and has played an important role for its economic growth". Dr. Birol referred to the current situation in Japan where all 50 nuclear power plants has stopped, "Japan is facing the most critical turning point since the Second World War in terms of economy" he alarmed. Firstly, the volume of imports of fossil fuels will increase in order to substitute nuclear with thermal power, and dependence on the Middle East will increase, "and have negative impact to energy security of Japan." He also pointed out that with soaring natural gas (LNG) and crude oil prices, Japanese companies are forced to pay higher energy prices, and will have disadvantage in the competitive conditions compared to companies with low energy price in other countries. Soaring energy prices will also hit the consumers through higher electricity bill, and the consumption may decline further. Referring to Japan's export of nuclear power plants Dr. Birol said "it will become extremely difficult to convince the buyer country," and the negotiation will be tough if Japan choose path towards no-nuclear. With regard to the crude oil prices trends in the future, "there are no country other than Iraq that has significant room for increasing production, so oil price will remain high at 3 digit."

24 May 2012, Reuters

China spurred a jump in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to their highest ever recorded level in 2011, offsetting falls in the United States and Europe, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Thursday. "The new data provide further evidence that the door to a two degrees Celsius trajectory is about to close," Fatih Birol, IEA's chief economist said in a statement posted on its website. Meanwhile, China's CO2 emissions per unit of GDP, or its carbon intensity, fell by 15 percent between 2005 and 2011, the IEA said, suggesting the world's second-largest economy was finding less carbon-consuming ways to fuel growth. "What China has done over such a short period of time to improve energy efficiency and deploy clean energy is already paying major dividends," Birol said.

23 May 2012, Financial Times

According to the International Energy Agency, US energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, have fallen 450m tonnes over the past five years – the largest drop among all countries surveyed. Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist, attributed the fall to improvements in fuel efficiency in the transport sector and a “major shift” from coal to gas in the power sector. “This is a success story based on a combination of policy and technology – policy driving greater efficiency and technology making shale gas production viable,” Mr Birol told the Financial Times. The agency has calculated that in order to contain rising temperatures and avoid the most damaging effects of global warming, annual energy-related emissions should be no more than 32.6GT by 2017. “We are now only 1GT away from that, with five years still to go,” Mr Birol warned. “The door to a 2 degree trajectory is about to close, and to close forever.” While China pumps out more CO2 than any other country, its per capita emissions are still only two-thirds of advanced countries. Mr Birol said China was making “major efforts” on energy efficiency, which had improved by 15 per cent over the past five years. Without these, he said, global carbon emissions would have been 1.5 gigatonnes higher. Read the full article on the FT site (registration required).

15 June 2012,

21 May 2012, Huffington Post

If this statement by Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA) last week wasn't a dire warning, then I don't know what is: "What I see now with existing investments for plants under construction... we are seeing the door for a 2 degree Celsius target about to be closed and closed forever." […]Nothing in the "Camp David Declaration" comes even close to moving us off the frightening trajectory which the IEA is warning about. […] On the issue of fossil fuel subsidies, the declaration merely reiterates previous commitments to phasing them out over the medium term, despite the fact that according to Birol "we are going backwards." From 2010 to 2012, fossil fuel subsidies increased from $400 billion to $630 billion. If you think this is an issue of environment vs. economics, think again. To quote Birol once more, "One dollar not invested now in reducing C02 will cost 4.6 dollars in the next decade to achieve the same effect." It's like using one credit card to pay off the debt on another. The interest payments will get you in the end.

29 May 2012, Council on Foreign Relations

The study, “Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas”, is worth reading in its entirety – it’s a great assessment of the environmental challenges involved in developing unconventional gas and of ways to address them. What jumps out at me, though, is how the authors have gone beyond the usual hand-waving claims about how steps to ensure safe drilling shouldn’t be too expensive. Instead, they’d actually done some concrete cost estimates. The verdict? Adopting “Golden Rules” for shale gas development would add a mere seven percent to the cost of each well. And though the IEA report doesn’t discuss this the impact on the price of gas, at least in the United States, would be even less, because some of the cost of delivered gas has nothing to do with well expenses: distribution costs, for example, would be unaffected by new drilling rules; severance taxes and impact fees wouldn’t change; and corporate taxes would presumably fall a bit, since many compliance costs could be written off. If you think that delivered gas will ultimately cost five dollars for a thousand cubic feet, the IEA is saying that its golden rules would add less than thirty-five cents. Contrast that with the much bigger impact of a backlash against drilling, and you have a pretty compelling case.

30 May 2012,

"The IEA [Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas] report is a well evidenced and even-handed contribution at a critical time in the debate. However, its title should not lead us to conclude that implementing the rules gives gas a free pass on climate change. In fact, this report debunks the theory promulgated by some that an unconventional gas revolution on its own will enable us to meet our climate goals in the short or long-term, underlining the danger of looking at one energy source in isolation“ said Niall O’Shea, Head of Responsible Investing for The Co-operative Asset Management.

15 May 2012, The Wall Street Journal

Greater reliance on renewable energy has also trimmed demand for natural gas in some countries. Based on preliminary estimates, gas demand in the European Union fell by almost 11% in 2011 to levels last seen in 2000, said the International Energy Agency's Chief Economist, Fatih Birol.

14 May 2012, The New Yorker

Until recently, climate scientists believed that a six-degree rise, the effects of which would be an undeniable disaster, was unlikely. But new data have changed the minds of many. Late last year, Fatih Birol, the chief economist for the International Energy Agency, said that current levels of consumption “put the world perfectly on track for a six-degree Celsius rise in temperature. […] Everybody, even schoolchildren, knows this will have catastrophic implications for all of us.”