World energy consumption is rising so rapidly even the heads of two Canadian companies positioned to benefit from unrelenting demand and sky-high prices are concerned about the effects, both long- and short-term. "I was in Europe last week and people were rushing back to the pumps [over fears prices would be going up] every time they used a quarter of tank," Clive Mather, president and ceo of Shell Canada told a conference here. "That's what creates the problem moving the gasoline from the refineries out to the service stations [contributing to supply shortfalls]. It isn't very helpful but it is understandable. What we want to do is get back to an orderly market as quickly as we can. My hope is that will happen over the next few days." Gasoline prices rising over the short term, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and with Hurricane Rita threatening the US Gulf Coast of Texas, represented but one concern for the likes of Mather, who predicts world demand for energy will double or possibly triple in the next 20 to 30 years, as economies in China, India and other parts of Asia continue to play catchup. "We talk a lot about North America and Europe and their SUVs, but the real issue is in the developing world," said Mather.
Gwyn Morgan, president and ceo of EnCana, North America's largest producer of natural gas, said the world's tight energy supply-demand picture won't loosen any time soon. "We all know [that] the single biggest reason for high oil prices is that never before in the history of the world have there been [nations of] two billion people [in Asia] growing at rates of 8% or 9%," said Morgan. Consumer behaviour in North America must change given the demand pressures in Asia, Morgan said. "I believe the North American urban model is flawed." he said. "Why do we have millions of cars every day parked on the road [in traffic jams] burning fuel when there is a better way? With demand growth in India, China and places like South Korea, our consumption in North America is unsustainable." Concerns in Canada because of the world's heated energy market range from losing jobs in the manufacturing epicentre of Ontario to Alberta's economy overheating with inflation, Morgan said.
(National Post 050924)