I had the incredible privilege of attending the 24th World Petroleum Congress (WPC), which took place in the beautiful city of Calgary, Alberta, from September 17th to 21st. The event revolved around the central theme of “Energy Transition: The Path to Net Zero,” and it was a great experience. Being part of this massive gathering was truly remarkable, as it brought together not only oil and gas industry experts but also politicians, executives, and dedicated workers from all corners of the globe. I was among 10,000+ fortunate individuals who had the opportunity to explore the diverse exhibitions, witness cutting-edge innovations, and engage with industry leaders. This allowed me to engage in meaningful discussions and gain valuable insights into the future of energy transition. Moreover, it was heartwarming to see attendees from more than 100 countries, highlighting the global significance of this event and the collective commitment to addressing the challenges of our energy future. Attending the WPC provided me with a unique perspective on the crucial discussions and initiatives driving our path towards a sustainable and net-zero energy future.
Summary of Events
The WPC featured seven plenary sessions, daily luncheon panels, ministerial sessions with participation from leaders around the globe, CEO strategic sessions, and technical forums. These sessions brought together government representatives, CEOs, academics, and experts from various corners of the world. The exhibition floor was buzzing with activity throughout all four days, attracting a diverse range of visitors and delegates. I had the opportunity to explore some exciting features such as:
The Carbon Tech Expo, which provided a platform where businesses, governments and academia could showcase their ideas, prototypes or commercial products.
Women in Industry skill builder workshops, panel sessions and networking events.
A Digital Poster Plaza containing 128 pioneering posters across 17 technical forums, highlighting cutting-edge energy technologies.
The Sustainability & Social Responsibility Pavilion, where representatives from the community discussed issues such as sustainable development, ethics, and education.
A few other highlights from the programme included:
An opening ceremony kicked off with a captivating keynote address by the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources in Canada. Following that, we heard insightful remarks from Danielle Smith, the Premier of Alberta, and Jyoti Gondek, the Mayor of Calgary.
A Ministerial Dialogue featuring HRH Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Al Saud and the noteworthy signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) officially entrusting the organization of the WPC to Saudi Arabia, which will host the 25th edition of the WPC in Riyadh in 2026.
Canada Night which offered an unforgettable experience with a Western-themed dinner, an indoor rodeo and a performance by Cirque du Soleil. This showcased various elements of Canada’s rich heritage and was admired by global attendees.
The WPC Excellence Awards (WPCEA) presented to distinguish companies, institutions or any public or private organization engaged in the oil and gas industry for promoting or operating with high excellence standards.
The information presented at the Congress, as well as the discussions and debates around the progressive programme topics made me feel enthusiastic about the energy industry and inspired by the collective aims to achieve a net zero future.
The WPC served as a valuable platform for learning and reflection, encouraging participants to deeply consider the complexities of our energy transition journey. Upon reflecting on my time at the WPC, I have distilled my concluding thoughts as follows.
Along our journey toward achieving a net-zero carbon future, more and more people are coming to understand that solving the energy challenge is far from straightforward. There is no silver bullet, and no single technology that can serve as the ultimate solution. This transition necessitates a blend of various technologies, government support, and ongoing innovation within the industry. Canada boasts some of the world’s highest-quality oil and gas resources, ranking third in oil reserves, fourth in oil production, and sixth in natural gas production. In a world with record-high global oil demand that continues to rise, Canada finds itself in a desirable position. However, it is crucial for Canada to create an environment that allows the assessment and development of a multitude of emerging technologies, ensuring that the most impactful and cost-effective options can thrive in the market.
In today’s world, the primary focus has shifted towards pragmatism and a deep understanding of reality. While there is a growing awareness of the need for sustainable energy sources and the imperative to combat climate change, it is also evident that the global demand for fossil fuels remains substantial. This paradox contradicts the widespread concerns regarding climate change, the firsthand experiences of extreme weather events, and the reliability and affordability of energy sources. Striking a balance between the urgent call for environmental and social responsibility and the current dependence on fossil fuels presents a complex challenge that requires thoughtful consideration and innovative solutions.
Figure 1. Image taken from the World Petroleum Congress exhibition entrance.
About the Author
Hilary Schumacher, a Sustainability Integration Advisor at Suncor Energy, specializes in cultivating and executing transformative enhancements within energy companies that foster inspiration and drive positive change. Hilary’s academic background includes a BSc in Geophysics from the University of Calgary, complementing her five years of experience in the energy industry. In addition to her professional roles, Hilary also serves as a CSEG Board Member, holding the position of Director of Member Services, and remains actively engaged in volunteer work within her community.