The “Criticality” Of Minerals For Energy Transitions. Hydrocarbons? Yes, Hydrocarbons.

SectorOil & Gas
CountryMiddle east

By Michelle Michot Foss We talk increasingly about “critical minerals,” sources for elements spanning the periodic table that are vital, considered to be strategically important, and for which substitutes are very difficult and expensive or simply non-existent. In the grand competition among nation states to “decarbonize” and reach “net zero”, the rush of one-upmanship ignores an important truth: Hydrocarbons are critical minerals, permeating all facets of human existence and endeavor. The myriad activist pressures and government responses to limit, ban or otherwise penalize access to the extraction of and use of the most common sources of hydrocarbon molecules – petroleum and natural gas – represent forms of trade restrictions.  These actions also introduce a range of potentially dangerous insecurities and, with increased imports of both hydrocarbons and substitutes, raise the prospect of worsening trade deficits.  We have been there, and done all of this before with oil and seen the consequences.  That past experience, in large part, underlies notions of “criticality”. The fundamental dilemma remains that both more...