The global energy system may fail to live up to the expectations and hopes placed in it. The conflict in the Middle East, a region that remains the only major supplier of inexpensive oil, is reminiscent in its escalation of the most tense situations for global energy since the oil shocks of the 1970s. The situation between Russia and Ukraine has put the issue of continuity of gas supply back on the agenda. An uncertain future awaits nuclear power, to which some countries assign a strategic role in ensuring their energy security. Today, electricity is still an unaffordable luxury for many, particularly two-thirds of the population living in sub-Saharan Africa.

Global energy demand is estimated by the International Energy Agency (IEA)[1] to grow by 37% by 2040, while at the same time population and economic growth will be less energy intensive than before. In the baseline scenario, global energy demand growth will slow markedly, from over 2% per year in the past two decades to 1% per year after 2025, due to price signals, energy policy and a structural shift in the global economy toward a greater share of services and light industrial sectors[2]. The global distribution of energy demand will change dramatically, with stagnation in Europe, Japan, Korea and North America on the one hand, and explosive growth in Asia, where 60% of global demand will be concentrated, and in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America on the other. A milestone will be reached in the early 2030s, when China will become the world's largest oil consumer, surpassing the United States, where oil consumption will drop to levels not seen in decades. From then on, India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa will become the main drivers of global energy demand growth.

By 2040, oil, gas, coal, and low-carbon energy sources will each account for a quarter of the global energy market. There will be no problem with resource scarcity, but there will be other challenges. Although regulation and markets will bring the share of fossil fuels in primary energy demand down to three quarters by 2040, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the energy sector will not be stopped and will rise to one-fifth of today's level.

There will not be a shortage of supply in the oil market in the near term, but it is important to understand that we will be increasingly dependent on a small number of oil producers. Regional oil demand trends are very different: a drop in demand for one barrel of oil in OECD countries is accompanied by a rise in demand for two barrels in non-OECD countries. Growing oil consumption in transportation and petrochemicals is driving demand from 90 million bpd in 2013 to 104 million bpd in 2040. However, high prices and demand management measures will slow oil consumption growth, eventually leading to demand stagnation. By 2030, the required investment in oil and gas development and production will be $900 billion a year, and it is unclear whether all investments will be made in time to meet the level of production needed - especially given the anticipated stagnation in U.S. oil production levels from the early 2020s and the subsequent decline. And there are several risks to maintaining the necessary level of investment: the complexity and capital intensity of developing Brazilian deepwater fields, the difficulty of applying U.S. experience in developing hard-to-recover oil fields outside the United States, the uncertain future of Canadian oil sands production, sanctions against Russia that limit access to technology and capital markets and, most importantly, political instability and security issues in Iraq. In general, the situation in the Middle East is one of the main problems in the oil sector, as the share of this region in oil production will steadily grow, especially for Asian countries, which by 2040 will import two-thirds of the crude oil traded on international markets.