Oilfield services firm Halliburton on Monday warned the world is headed for a period of energy scarcity following years of underinvestment in bringing more fossil fuels to market.
"For the first time in a long time, we will see a buyer looking for a barrel of oil, as opposed to a barrel of oil looking for a buyer," Halliburton Chief Executive Jeff Miller said at an oil and gas conference in Houston.
It could take about a decade to ease the supply crunch, Miller told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
U.S. oil prices in October jumped to a seven-year high of $85 a barrel as the economy recovered from the coronavirus pandemic and demand surged. Critics have pointed fast-shift to renewable energy and pressure from governments to reduce fossil fuel production for the rising prices.
Miller, however, did not blame the energy transition and said it in fact needed to move faster to help alleviate high prices.
"The fact is that there is not enough energy. If there were abundant alternative energy sources, we wouldn't see commodity prices spiking," he said.
In the United States, many companies are holding production flat or limiting growth next year, following a push from investors to focus on increasing returns over output. U.S. oil production could reach 11.9 million barrels per day in 2022, an increase of 800,000 bpd from 2021, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast.
Miller expects his oil producing customers next year will increase spending on new oil and gas by 20% or more and warned that the services market would be strained by tight supplies of equipment.
While Halliburton continues to invest in new technologies, such as electric hydraulic fracturing fleets, he said the pace of investment would be muted, especially as margins have been squeezed for oilfield service companies.
"Our rate of reinvestment is substantially lower. We don't believe this cycle will get the kind of legs it has had in the past," he said.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton in Houston Editing by Marguerita Choy)