Shell Scenarios - Imagining the future
In 2012, we have our 40th anniversary of Scenarios in Shell.
And it was Pierre Wack, who put this on the map.
That was at a time when a lot of the Western oil companies
were just planning on the basis of more production from the Middle East
with business, as usual, carrying on.
However, Pierre Wack was a very bright man.
And what he pointed to was how what he called "the rapids",
the volatility in the world, would rise
as the Middle Eastern countries decided to nationalise those assets.
We were beginning to sketch up possibilities
of the kind of development that led to OPEC,
which completely changed the energy industry at that time in the 70s.
In the 80s, we were looking forward
and were beginning to see the kinds of political developments
that culminated in the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc.
A lot of people had discounted that Russia might emerge
and move into the world stage.
There were the oil price collapse of the 1980s.
A lot of the conditions were there - with the softening of demand
but the rising supply
were in place for an oil price collapse
that a lot of people weren't ready for and didn't see,
but the Scenarios team had.
In the 90s, there were the forces of globalisation,
market liberalisation and information technology
that were transforming the whole of society.
And, also, we could see environmental pressures building up.
One scenario was about
the real breakthrough and acceleration of China
and the way its development could be transformational.
I think we were ahead of the curve in charting the way
that might have a significant impact on the energy system.
We had a number of other milestones
like bringing sustainable development on the map,
bringing the importance of gas as part of that on the map...
We have explored many other things like disruptive technologies -
what if electric mobility would really take off
and in what form?
When you look from the 2000s,
you begin to see, also, the impact of the demand surge on resources
as prosperity and population boom,
and, also, the constraints on supply that lead to a new tightness,
and on one of the features
in what we now refer to as, "The Era of Volatile Transitions"
over the next decades.
In the shorter medium term, one of the critical questions in the West
is how we're going to emerge from the financial crisis.
Over the very long term,
there's the question as to how we transition
to what we hope would be a more sustainable world.
But one of the big challenges for humanity, for the centuries,
is the question of whether the people of Africa,
the people in developing countries worldwide
are going to be able to enjoy the quality of lifestyles
that many of us in the West have become used to.
Being a global company ourselves,
we really like to understand how that may evolve
and how we can have a meaningful part in that process.