Pedro Miras Salamanca, elected President of the World Petroleum Council for a cycle that will culminate in the 24th WPC in Calgary, Canada, knows that he has come to the helm at a time of transition.
The global pandemic, accelerating digitalisation and energy transition all spell change for the oil industry, and the WPC has been working to keep in step with the times.
A strategic review, led by outgoing WPC President Tor Fjaeran, was formally presented to Council members on Sunday, and the next cycle will be about implementing the changes.
“Tor has been a wonderful President. He led the process in very difficult times. His leadership has been very key for this and he has also started the process of modernising the WPC,” said Miras.
The Future Strategy Review included a discussion on the future role of the WPC, identifying drivers to be sure that the institution is at the heart of the global energy arena in the next cycle.
Miras said: “We want to be global and we want to look at energy.
"Many oil and gas companies are in their own process of transformation to become deliverers of energy and we want to be at the heart of this global discussion.”
Another aspect of the strategy keenly supported by Miras is a determination to ensure that the WPC is a forum for open discussion, engaging at all levels, rather than taking positions, lobbying or producing reports.
“We also want to make this discussion closer to people," he said.
"There is sometimes an outside understanding that we are discussing things among ourselves, but it is very important that wider society understands the things we are doing.
“We want to show society that we are as worried about energy transition and climate change as them. We want to be part of the solution.”
Miras stressed that an open debate of this nature allows scope for criticism or controversy.
“We want to hear all points of view in a transparent way. We want to be the voice of reason, and that comes from debate,” he said.
Another change, emanating from the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, is an openness to new formats and forums.
“We were very focused on holding the 23rd WPC in person, as we understand there is a special value in that, but we can also adapt our formats, for example holding hybrid meetings during the cycle,” Miras said.
For the 23rd WPC in Houston, the organisers were able to maintain a theme of Innovative Energy Solutions that, with the pandemic-induced delay, was decided four years before the proceedings.
“What is more important than technology for solving energy problems?” Miras asked.
Miras’ long experience with the WPC includes recent positions as Vice-President for programmes of the WPC Executive Committee.
With Repsol, Miras works for one of the oil companies that has embraced the energy transition most fully — and was the very first to set out its own net-zero emissions target.
He describes himself as comfortable in multilateral institutions bringing together diverse approaches and perspectives, and he hopes to bring bring this to his new role.