1 October 2012


John V Mitchell

Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources

Dr Valérie Marcel

Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources

Beth Mitchell


The oil and gas industry is under pressures that will transform it. The effect of other industries on oil demand, the increasing opportunities for non-conventional oil and gas that offset perceptions of limits to conventional resources, and the shift of growth to Asia will all compel the industry to look for growth in value rather than volume, to distinguish between the expanding markets of developing countries and the declining markets of the private sector in developed countries, and to target technologies to a diversity of resource opportunities outside the state sector and to specialized partnerships within it.

How the industry changes is important for those who invest in it, depend on its products or try to avoid the environmental and social effects of using them, or who look for tax revenues from its activities.

This report focuses on several critical challenges facing the industry: 

  • The effect on the demand for oil of the substitution of oil-avoiding technologies (such as in energy efficient vehicles) and the use of alternative fuels;
  • The resulting split between growth and no-growth downstream markets and its consequences;
  • The changing role of OPEC; 
  • The uncertainties facing gas producers in markets defined by government policies towards alternative fuels for power; 
  • The perception that limits to the expansion of oil production have weakened; 
  • The continuing role of national oil companies; 
  • The financial challenge from investors in the private-sector companies; 
  • The geopolitical connotations of the shift in oil trade to Asian developing countries
Each chapter sets out the current position, analyses changes in technology, policy and competition, and concludes with the implications for the oil and gas industry.



Below are several figures from the report. More information can be found in the full report.

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows that it is the transport sector that dominates the change in oil demand.

Figure 2

Figure2 shows that the share of oil in the world energy market has declined continuously since 1973.

Figure 21

Figure 21 illustrates this crossover of trends by comparing the export surpluses of different regions with the oil deficits of the Asia-Pacific region.