With electric car sales now booming, how is the oil industry prepping for life after gas guzzlers? Emily Wither reports from the the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul.
Electric cars could spell big trouble for big oil. The long-awaited Tesla Model 3 began rolling off the production line on Friday, while Volvo said it would be the first traditional automaker to phase out gas engines. Researchers at Imperial College London predicting such cars will see oil demand drop by 2 million barrels per day as early as 2025. At this year's World Petroleum Congress is in Istanbul there's been much discussion about cleaner, greener alternatives. Electric cars are also becoming more affordable as battery prices drop. Their prospects already threaten wrenching change for the oil industry. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IEA, FATIH BIROL, SAYING: "Electricity for the first time over took investments for the oil and gas sector." That's the head of the International Energy Agency. He says global investments in oil and gas saw another big decline for the second year running. No surprise though if the oil industry body wants to stay positive: (SOUNDBITE) (English) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IEA, FATIH BIROL, SAYING: "We still believe that the global oil demand will continue to grow despite the growth in electric cars because there will be a lot oil needed for trucks, ships, jets and the chemical industry." Not everyone is so convinced. Market watcher Daniel Yergin agrees that oil demand will continue to grow in the short term, but says it will level out by the middle of 2030s. He says oil companies accept Gasoline demand will drop, but adds that electric cars just part of the story: (SOUNDBITE) (English) VICE CHAIRMAN IHS MARKIT, DANIEL YERGIN, SAYING: "The big subject right now are electric vehicles but there are other really important things happening with cars too which is autonomous vehicles and ride hailing and also fuel efficiency standards in fact we think fuel efficiency standards may be even more important in terms of what happens to gasoline demand." While attendees at this conference may be keen to play down the threat to the oil industry... A transport revolution is coming, with electric cars leading the way. And every one that hits the road, means less demand at the pumps.