1) The oil and gas industry is in the middle of a revolution, one taking place on five or six different fronts. After 70 years with an almost unchanged corporate structure among the major companies, the industry has, in the last two years, seen four major transactions in the United States and Europe, and a host of smaller link-ups.
2) Companies have grown in scope and scale. But oil prices are still largely determined by the decisions of OPEC, when all thе merges are completed, the four largest companies together will account for no more than 12 percent of world oil supply and 13 percent of gas supply.
3) These merges and acquisitions don't constitute an endgame; the industry is not shrinking. Demand for oil is 12 percent higher than it was a decade ago. Gas demand is 30 percent higher. And with nuclear developments again in question, it seems certain mat hydrocarbons will meet the bulk of the world's new energy demand for the foreseeable future. The geography of the industry is changing, too. Incremental demand for energy comes predominantly from Asia, driven by population growth and rising living standards.
4) We are seeing a new balance of fuels take shape. The demand for natural gas has doubled since the early 1970s and is set to double again by 2020, partly because gas is more environmentally friendly — for equivalent electricity output gas generates less than half the emissions produced by coal.
5) As part of China's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the revolution, the Chinese adjusted the use of some of the coal-fired industrial plants around Beijing. In a city that is often covered by a blanket of smog, people could see what they were celebrating.
6) The story is just one example of a new set of expectations. People want energy, because energy means liberty, mobility, growth and the chance to improve living standards.
7) But people want a clean environment, too. Yet, at the moment consumers and...