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Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana Paraskova

Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews. 

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IEA: Net-Zero Goal Means No More New Oil And Gas Investment Ever


The world doesn’t need any new investments in oil and gas beyond what is already approved if it hopes to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday, adding that the road to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius involves a rapid and radical shift away from fossil fuels.

According to the IEA’s pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050, the world will not need new oil and gas projects beyond those sanctioned as of this year, the Paris-based agency said in its Net Zero by 2050 report published today.

Instead, all new energy investments should be of the renewable variety in what the IEA refers to as an “immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies.”

The agency’s ‘Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector’ also says that no new coal mines or mine extensions are required if the world is to achieve net-zero emissions in 2050.

“The path to net?zero emissions is narrow: staying on it requires immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies,” the agency said.

The scenario with the world reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 would mean a sharp decline in demand for fossil fuels, “meaning that the focus for oil and gas producers switches entirely to output – and emissions reductions – from the operation of existing assets,” the IEA said.

“No new oil and natural gas fields are needed in the net zero pathway, and supplies become increasingly concentrated in a small number of low-cost producers.”

The pathway to achieving net-zero would result in coal demand collapsing by 90 percent by 2050 and natural gas demand slumping by 55 percent, the IEA noted. Oil demand would plunge by as much as 75 percent to just 24 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2050, from around 100 million bpd in 2019. Related: Iran Is Planning An Oil Export Boost

“Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will require nothing short of the complete transformation of the global energy system,” the agency said.

The IEA, however, noted that such a transformation would also pose new energy security risks, while the old security risks would not go away.

Even in a scenario in which oil demand is plunging, supplies will become increasingly concentrated in a small number of low-cost producers. OPEC’s share of a much-reduced global oil supply would surge from around 37 percent in recent years to 52 percent in 2050, “a level higher than at any point in the history of oil markets,” according to the IEA.

In the clean energy transition, the energy security risks will include the variability of supply, cybersecurity risks, and the growing dependence on critical minerals, the agency said.  


By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 18 2021 said:
    The IEA lives on a different planet. It faces a Catch-22 situation. To achieve zero emissions by 2050, it calls for no new oil and gas fields or new coal mines. However, a global energy transition wouldn’t even succeed without considerable contributions of natural gas and the global economy would come to a halt without oil and therein lies the dilemma.

    And the simple clear answer the IEA will get if it comes down to earth from the planet where it is living on currently is that there will neither be a post-oil era nor a peak oil demand either throughout the 21st century and probably far beyond because there can never be an alternative as versatile as oil even in 100 years from now. Therefore, the talk about zero emissions by 2050 is no more than a charade.

    Even coal won’t disappear from the face of the earth for the foreseeable future because it is a vital economic asset to countries which have plentiful reserves of. While they may curb its extensive use, they will never stop using it altogether.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Robin Rowe on May 18 2021 said:
    When the Titanic struck its fatal iceberg, the impact felt so gentle that most passengers were unaware anything bad had happened. Few understood the ship was doomed, that drastic immediate action was necessary to save their lives.

    Despite a shortage of lifeboats on the Titanic, when rescuers finally arrived they found some Titanic lifeboats empty. Offered the opportunity to descend a rope ladder fifty feet into a small boat in the middle of the freezing Atlantic ocean, some passengers refused to leave. They chose the familiar "safety" of staying on the Titanic.

    One way or another, we will achieve zero emissions. Voluntarily, or through extinction of the human race. The don't-jeopardize-the-economy argument is like calmly watching the Titanic sinking while standing upon it. The band played on.

    Robin S. Rowe
    Candidate for Mayor
  • Marcus R on May 18 2021 said:
    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh,

    Even though I only am a M.Sc it is clear that there is a transition away from fossil fuel dependency. It is driven by two major causes:
    1. The need to mitigate AGW due to rising CO2, CH4 and N2O levels
    2. The technical development of everything from renewable generation, electrification of transport, fossil free steel production etc.

    Theese two trends will rapidly drcrease the need for fossil fuels. In my country we have 0 fosil generation since several years as one of many examples.

    In Your last paragraph You point at two important aspects, the first being the issue of areas that are dependent upon the actual fossil source itself. The longer they wait for the transaction, the harder the fall will be. This migration will not be easy, and it will take serious efforts in planning. Take EU and the polish coal-sector as one example.

    No-one said that fossil fuels will go away to 100 %. There are still other usage for it than burning it. What is said is that we need to decrease our usage rapidly in order to meet demands on reduction of CO2-emissions.

    Planning for the future by looking in the mirror is never a good idea.
  • Marcus R on May 18 2021 said:
    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh,
    First, Net-Zero is not 0 emission of CO2 - it is about keeping the balance of CO2 levels in the atmosphere. That will require a shift away from fossil fuels though as stated in the report.

    Technical development have already given us many of the required tools for that transition such as renewable generation, electrification of transport (parts of it), fossil free steel production (as in i.e hybrit) and so on and soforth. Along the road we also have GenIV reactors that - given that they live up to the goals set for them - will play an part. If they are able to compete when ready for industrialization ~2030 remains to be seen.

    In Your last paragraph you point at two important aspects:
    1. How to make nations/areas dependent upon fossil sources be a part of the transition. The longer we wait for that plan, the harder the fall will be for them. It is not fair to make them believe they will be unaffected by the transition.
    2. We will not stop using fossil sources to 100%. It will just play a substantially smaller part, as noted in the report.

    But the migration away from a fossil fueled economy has already started.

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