Mackenzie: Keep Markets Free, Address Climate Challenges

At IHS CERAWeek Tuesday, Andrew Mackenzie, BHP Billiton Ltd.’s chief executive officer, gave a keynote speech where he addressed the importance of the free market in marketing fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, while also addressing climate change. It is possible, he said, to use fossil fuels while also making use of technology to reduce emissions.

While best known for being in the coal business – it is the largest mining company in the world – BHP Billiton has also been a player in the oil and gas industry since the 1960s. Today, BHP has a global upstream business, and is a large investor in U.S. shale, and has operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

BHP also supplies oil, gas, coal and uranium, and Mackenzie said many say it will take an “all of the above” approach to meet energy demand. The company focuses on geology, technology and the supply chain, giving them a unique perspective as peoples’ energy needs change.

“Energy is crucial at all stages of economic development,” Mackenzie said.

He noted that demand for developed countries is flattening. One-fifth of the world’s population still lacks access to reliable, modern energy. So, the real growth potential is in emerging countries. He noted that 700 million people in sub-Saharan Africa still burn charcoal or wood to cook.

“Thankfully, this is changing for the better. In the next twenty years, we expect 1.7 billion people to gain access to liquid natural gas [LNG] for the first time.”

Mackenzie noted that an increasing part of the Chinese population is connected to the grid as the country develops. A rise in incomes in the country is feeding the need for more energy through the purchase of more consumer goods.


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