Reflecting on CERAWeek, the Energy Industry’s Premier Annual Event

By Catherine Reheis-Boyd and Jodie Muller

Each year CERAWeek brings together global leaders, policymakers, and all facets of the business community to discuss the most relevant issues in energy. The event is recognized as the premier energy industry gathering in North America, and a major theme of this year’s event was addressing climate goals while grappling with serious concerns over how to deliver economic growth, energy security, energy access and affordability. These are very familiar themes to the work we do every day at the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) on behalf of our member companies.

What we loved most about this year’s event was the focus on innovation and realistic solutions. The oil & gas industry has driven forward solutions for decades to provide safe, affordable, reliable and ever-cleaner energy to communities everywhere. Being a part of these important discussions is how we will move toward a better path forward.

Reflecting on a truly powerful week of dialogue, debate and discussion, we walked away with a lot of valuable insights. The following are our top takeaways that will help drive and reinforce our advocacy and engagement efforts throughout 2024:

  • Collaboration is Critical. There was a much more collaborative tone than what we see a lot in our policy debates here in California and the west, as well as what we often read in media. This is critical to a better path forward for all. The Climate Philanthropy panel in particular focused on:
    • The importance of understanding and valuing all stakeholders, from CEOs to communities in aligning economic, environmental and social goals
    • The fact that our journey towards a more sustainable energy future is not a zero-sum game between industry and environmental advocates.
    • The need for trust-building spaces for practical discussions away from extremes, seeking common, pragmatic solutions.
  • Enthusiasm is Warranted. With growing energy demand and tech innovation, there has never been a more exciting time to be a part of this industry with unprecedented opportunities to help find a better path forward. Specifically, innovation was front and center, which everyone from Energy Secretary Jennifer Graham to Chevron CEO Mike Wirth to Bill Gates noted, sharing insights and examples such as:
    • Artificial intelligence (AI) and the technology’s integration into energy strategies, modelling, operations and beyond
    • Carbon management solutions such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) to immediately support emissions reduction goals
    • Continuous incremental improvements are what drives progress and should not be discounted.
  • Women and Diversity are Driving Progress. The Women in Energy Dinner showcased the passion, dedication and critical contributions that women and diverse voices within the energy industry continue to make.
    • Women’s events continue to grow in prominence to showcase the interest around all things energy.
    • A steadily growing workforce of women and diverse demographics across the energy industry are leading in areas from operations to engineering to new innovations such as AI and CCS
    • CERAWeek’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiative highlights the need for cultivating communities through business, policy and societal efforts that are equitable.
  • Realism is More Important than Ever. We’ve often spoken of energy realities and the critical need to identify policies that are out of touch, simply not working or that only work for the wealthy.
    • Our path to a lower carbon future is complex, and policies need to be achievable and balance economic realities, affordability and energy security.
    • The innovations coming out of our industry are plentiful and all sources of energy from these advancements will be needed to meet energy demand in an affordable way.
    • Taking a realistic look at current policies is critical to setting – and achieving – climate goals, and any policy that isn’t equitable or affordable simply isn’t productive.

We left CERAWeek as always feeling energized, better informed and engaged on the issues that matter most to our industry, and this year was no different. These important conversations will help our WSPA team continue to engage stakeholders in an all of the above energy strategy to drive toward a sustainable energy future that works for everyone.

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