After the Crash: Wither hydrocarbons? The rescaling of oil and gas in the (post) COVID conjuncture

Type: Virtual Panel
Theme: Geographers and COVID-19: Setting Our Direction for the Future
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 39
Organizers: Gabe Eckhouse, Anna Zalik, Gabriela Valdivia
Chairs: Anna Zalik


Organizers: G. Eckhouse, G. Valdivia, A. Zalik

As a result of the impact of Covid on global energy demand, oil prices plummeted in 2020 with US benchmark prices actually sinking into negative territory in April. This unprecedented crash in demand is depicted by some as a precursor to a transition from hydrocarbons to renewable energy, as the cost of oil production exceed projected demand. Other commentators, echoing dynamics in the past decade, predict the reverse – that renewable resource technology is only competitive in the global market when oil prices are high. Concurrently, natural gas boosters have argued for surging demand for the ‘bridge fuel’ given ongoing or increased demand arising from the rescaling of the workplace. With an incoming Biden Administration in the US, will the trajectory of a post-Covid hydrocarbon future change? Even as Biden claims he will halt the Keystone XL pipeline - which would enable further tar sands development in Canada – the fracking industry is supported, and TC Energy (formerly TransCanada pipelines) persists with Keystone, now citing alliances with First Nations on both sides of the US/Canada border.

In this picture, various components of global, regional and national oil sectors are in flux and subject to re-regulation and political-economic rescaling. Among these are first (1), the likelihood of development of oil firms’ (proven and probable) reserves. Second (2), specific proposed regional infrastructural and transportation systems hang in the balance, including pipelines and road/rail infrastructure, as well as processing facilities that bring oil and gas to tidewater/global markets. The future of these systems and projects have significant implications for Indigenous sovereignty and for the frequently Black, Latin@ and racialized communities affected simultaneously by associated toxic pollution and possible industrial layoffs. And third (3), countries reliant on oil and gas exports for a significant portion of their GDP, and whose currencies are subject to downgrading based on oil’s market value, face severe economic downturn and rising debt levels. In this panel we unite scholars who study the oil and gas sector to discuss how such dynamics in the world market are re-shaping socio-spatial relations, domestic/bilateral/regional politics, the energy transition, and global geopolitics in their particular national, continental and transnational arenas of research.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Panelist Anna Zalik York University 10 8:00 AM
Panelist Gabe Eckhouse University of California Berkeley 10 8:10 AM
Panelist Gabriela Valdivia University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill 10 8:20 AM
Panelist Jennifer Baka Pennsylvania State University 10 8:30 AM
Panelist Kärg Kama University of Birmingham 10 8:40 AM
Panelist Natalie Koch Syracuse University 10 8:50 AM
Panelist Carlo Sica Syracuse University 10 9:00 AM

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