Opinião: Passado, presente e futuro

  • Market: Crude oil, Oil products
  • 26/12/23

É véspera de Natal e – tal como Ebenezer Scrooge, na história de 1843 de Charles Dickens, Um Conto de Natal – a indústria de petróleo tem sonhos perturbadores. O Fantasma do Natal Passado lembra Scrooge que o amor ao dinheiro o impediu de fazer um casamento feliz. O Fantasma do Presente de Natal avisa sobre o desastre, a menos que ele mude de rumo. E o fantasma do Natal que ainda está por vir revela que ninguém se importa com sua morte. A alegoria moral e política de Dickens ressoou ruidosamente, 180 anos depois, na Cop 28, conferência climática realizada pela Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU) em Dubai, enquanto os participantes debatiam se deveriam se comprometer com uma "eliminação progressiva" dos combustíveis fósseis.

O setor defende vigorosamente seu papel no futuro, prevendo uma vida mais longa e um declínio mais lento do que muitos acreditam ser compatível com os objetivos do Acordo de Paris. "Há uma demanda de petróleo e gás hoje e haverá no futuro", afirma o presidente da ExxonMobil, Darren Woods. "Basicamente, produziremos mais petróleo a um custo menor, de forma mais eficiente e com menos pegada ambiental. Esta é uma situação em que todos ganham."

O Cop 28 chegou a um consenso desconfortável, pedindo uma "transição para longe" dos combustíveis fósseis, que alguns ridicularizaram como um "Cop Out" (expressão em inglês para uma desculpa insatisfatória). No entanto, a indústria da commodity já se encontra no meio de uma transição, à medida que a atividade de exploração abranda, os horizontes de investimento diminuem e as empresas aumentam de tamanho através de fusões e aquisições para reduzir custos e serem mais competitivas. A expectativa de vida das reservas de petróleo upstream caiu pela metade: de 50 anos, há uma década, para 25 anos neste ano, informa o relatório Top Projects de 2023, do banco norte-americano Goldman Sachs. E, embora os gastos com upstream tenham se recuperado desde o colapso em 2020 e 2021, este novo ciclo é muito diferente do anterior, com o óleo de xisto norte-americano de ciclo curto agora em "modo de produção" e o ciclo mais longo, em águas profundas offshore, focado em desenvolvimentos de baixo custo, apontou a 39ª pesquisa de gastos com exploração e produção (E&P) do banco britânico Barclays.

As curvas futuras já refletem mudanças nas perspectivas do futuro do petróleo. Os preços do petróleo WTI a longo prazo subiram cerca de $10/b em comparação com o ano anterior, ao passo que os mercados consideram curvas de custos de oferta mais acentuadas. Após uma década de expansão dos recursos, devido principalmente ao óleo de xisto dos Estados Unidos, com curvas de custos mais longas e planas, a curva de custos do petróleo do relatório Top Projects, da Goldman Sachs, recuou desde 2017, tornando-se novamente mais curta e íngreme. O óleo de xisto dos EUA já não é um setor em expansão, com os acionistas buscando melhores retornos e os preços de equilíbrio para a perfuração de novos poços subindo devido à inflação e aos custos de capital mais elevados. E a reserva de projetos em águas profundas está recuando, com as empresas procurando pontos de equilíbrio mais baixos, de cerca de $50/b, para conter os riscos de investimentos de ciclo mais longo.

Ao contrário do petróleo, a curva de custos para zerar emissões de carbono está se tornando mais longa e plana, conforme a tecnologia melhora e os custos de capital diminuem – especialmente no extremo mais alto da curva de custos, afirma o relatório Carbonomics, de 2023, da Goldman Sachs. A conta para eliminar os 50pc mais baratos das emissões globais de gases de efeito de estufa se manteve perto de $1 trilhão nos últimos cinco anos. Mas a conta para alcançar a descarbonização de 75pc caiu quase metade, para $3,2 bilhões até 2023, ante $5,7 bilhões em 2019. E se o fornecimento de petróleo continuar mais caro e a redução de carbono mais barata, o argumento econômico para uma "transição" dos combustíveis fósseis deverá ser irresistível. "Mantenha sua mente aberta para uma variedade de soluções diferentes", diz Woods.

Como sempre, Dickens tem a resposta. "Viverei no Passado, no Presente e no Futuro!", exclama Scrooge, quando acorda de seus sonhos. "Os Espíritos de todos os Três lutarão dentro de mim."


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14/06/24

Q&A: Phillips 66 to balance fossil and renewable fuels

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