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Editorial comment

People used to think that the future would be full of floating cars, everyone would be wearing all in one silver jump suits whilst they holidayed at colonies on the moon and were waited on by robot servants. Alas, this obviously hasn’t happened (well not yet anyway). The future doesn’t always turn out as expected and predictions can often remain as nothing more than a prediction.

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In my January 2011 comment I highlighted a few forecasts that had been made for the year ahead and, inevitably, not all were correct. Oil prices were envisaged by Merrill Lynch to average US$ 85 /bbl and at their highest hit US$ 100 /bbl. At the time of writing, oil prices had actually peaked at over US$ 120 /bbl during the year, far exceeding Merrill Lynch’s projection. However, Asia Pacific, as expected by Deloitte at the start of the year, has become a hotbed of oil and gas activity; This can also be said for Latin America and the Middle East. One of the biggest projects in Asia Pacific to get off the ground this year was the Wheatstone LNG project, which will make Australia the world’s second largest LNG exporter. This venture is no mean feat and is going to require investments of up to US$ 29 billion.

At the moment, the big predictions for the future are green! Forecasts are being made about everything from hybrid cars to renewable energy targets. J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Forecasting Services has suggested that in the US alone, 780 000 hybrid cars will be sold in 2012. Whilst in a recent European Renewable Energy Council report on the 2020 EU renewable energy targets (Mapping renewable energy pathways towards 2020), predictions that ‘16 [EU] Member States expect to exceed their 2020 binding targets,’ and ‘25 out of the 27 countries expect to reach or exceed their 2020 targets domestically,’ when it comes to the target of 20% of EU energy consumption coming from renewable sources by 2020 were made. The solid belief in a green and renewable future was enforced throughout the report by comments from MEPs such as, Silva-Adriana Ticau, Romania’s MEP (S&D), who is quoted as saying, ‘the deployment of renewables in the building sector combined with ambitious energy efficiency measures and adequate financial support will ensure that Europe reaches its 2020 targets.’ The UK’s MEP (ALDE) Fiona Hall was also quoted in the report, stating that ‘it is vital for the environment and our economy that renewables become a greater part of our energy mix’.

It is of course important that renewable energy sources become part of the energy supply chain, as we all know that fossil fuel sources are finite. However, this will take a great deal of time and even more money. In this economic climate where there is the looming threat of a double dip recession, these predictions for the near future could be a little bit ambitious.

As always, the first article you’ll find in this issue is the regional report, which is contributed this month by Strategic Decisions Group and looks in depth at South East Asia’s downstream industry. We also conclude Albemarle’s ‘Slimming down sulfur’ series on page 65 and Bryan Research’s ‘A water story’ on page 61. Finally, for a bit of festive fun and cheer turn to the last page where we have a slightly different ‘15 facts on...’ for you.

As this is our last issue of the year I have one thing left to say; on behalf of the entire Hydrocarbon Engineering team, I hope you have a happy festive season and a safe and healthy new year.