Energy squeeze will trigger unrest, says Blackstone’s Schwarzman

Image: Exxon Mobil Corporation

Blackstone Inc. co-founder Stephen Schwarzman said the world is facing energy shortages so severe they could cause social unrest.

“We’re going to end up with a real shortage of energy,” he said at a conference in Saudi Arabia. “And when you have a shortage it’s just going to cost more and it’s probably going to cost a lot more. And when that happens you’re going to get very unhappy people around the world, in the emerging markets in particular.”

His comments were echoed by Larry Fink, who said there’s a high probability of oil soon reaching $100/bbl, especially with many governments and investors pushing back against investments in fossil fuels.

“Inflation, we are in a new regime,” said Fink, chairman of BlackRock Inc, the world’s biggest asset manager. “There are many structural reasons for that. Short term policy related to environmentalism, in terms of restricting supply of hydrocarbons, has created energy inflation and we are going to be living with that for some time.”

Commodities such as oil, natural gas and coal have soared this year as economies rebound from the coronavirus pandemic and amid supply disruptions. Brent crude is up 65 per cent to above $85/bbl, while gas futures in Asia and Europe reached record highs this month.

Several analysts have said that European countries could halt gas exports to neighbours if winter’s colder than normal and prices keep rising.

“We’re not focusing on long-term solutions, we’re not trying to change the world in a granular basis,” said Fink. “We have these visions we could go from a brown world and we could wake up tomorrow there’d be a green world. That is not going to happen.”

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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