Billionaire Elon Musk has told the ONS conference in Stavanger that “more oil and gas” is needed, at least in the near-term, for a sustainable future.
The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) was speaking at the opening session of the showcase, which was later disrupted by Just Stop Oil protestors.
Discussing the path to a sustainable future, Musk said: “I actually am not someone who tends to demonise oil and gas, to be clear. This is necessary right now or civilisation could not function. So I do think we need more oil and gas, not less.
“But simultaneously moving as fast as we can to a sustainable energy economy. I thought the words of the Prime Minister were spot on and I’m glad to hear there’s a large effort for ocean wind. That’s a massive untapped potential.”
During the live interview, Mr Musk underscored the need for battery storage development as a “buffer” for intermittent renewable energies like offshore wind and solar.
He also gave his backing of nuclear energy; “I know that’s not popular in some quarters but I think if you have a well-designed nuclear power plant you should not shut it down, especially right now.”
Asked about what’s in store for the next 10-15 years, the billionaire highlighted the rise of electric vehicles, though a barrier to acceleration lies in converting raw materials like lithium into batteries.
He said: “A tremendous amount of processing needs to happen for that, at the sort of scale that is currently comparable to the world oil and gas industry. The scale is just tremendous.
“This is an optimistic and positive message – I’m not suggesting at all complacency – but obviously if we can make them go even faster then that’s better.”
Elon Musk was joined on the opening plenary of ONS by Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, Ukraine president Zelensky and the CEOs of Equinor and TotalEnergies.
‘We’re not in the age of oil and gas, friends’
Around halfway through the Musk session, a fire alarm saw most of the media – watching via livestream – evacuated from Hall 10.
Just Stop Oil took credit for the action, protesting further development of oil and gas fields in Norway.
Just Stop Oil has just triggered a fire alarm (midway through @elonmusk's interview) during the opening session of #ONS2022. @JustStop_Oil
Media and Hall 10 all evacuated but all those in the main hall (where the plenary is actually taking place in an adjacent hotel) not affected pic.twitter.com/OLpKGP7LYE
— Allister Thomas (@AllisterMThomas) August 29, 2022
ONS: Elon Musk, protestors and Ukraine
The protest came minutes after Ukraine President Zelensky and Norwegian PM Store addressed the conference.
Mr Store condemned the “brutal” invasion of Ukraine and underlined Norway’s role in protecting European supply.
The Prime Minister said Norway “will remain a stable, predictable and, not least, a trustworthy European energy partner”.
He added: “The companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf are producing near maximum capacity every day.
“Their efforts have led to a near 10% of production of natural gas on the European market. We will do everything in our power, working with the companies, supporting them, to make sure that this continues.”
He discussed the offshore industry’s role to cut CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and the increase in efforts on carbon storage, hydrogen and offshore wind – the latter being a 30GW target by 2040.
He added: “We don’t live in the oil age, friends, we live in the energy age.
“Norway started with hydrowater (sic), we went onto oil, we moved into gas, and we are heading now into offshore wind, land wind, hydrogen, solar and new phases.
“One chapter building on the other; it is a transition which must succeed.”
During the event, PM Store announced the Norwegian government intends to spend around 205 million euros to fund supply of gas to Ukraine in 2022.
Paid for by the European Bank, Norway is inviting other countries to join.
President Zelensky praised Norway’s role in security of supply and condemned the actions of Russia as a “terrorist state”.
He pointed to the country’s burning of huge amounts of natural gas at the border with Finland.
He said: “Right now, Russia is burning at least 10 million Euros of gas near the Finnish border every day. This gas could be supplied to Germany, and other European consumers.
“Russia cannot stop gas production and does not want to send this to Europeans.
“Instead they are interested in having the crisis and, since they have no other buyers, they’re just burning the gas just like they’re burning our people.”