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Yergin in 2014. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

HOUSTON -- The big energy confab CERAWeek by IHS Markit gets underway today in America’s oil capitol. Here’s a Q&A from an interview last week with conference host and energy historian Dan Yergin.

What’s the biggest concern in the oil industry right now?

In the near term, it’s the question of whether the market really rebalances because U.S. shale is growing so fast. And I think out five years, there’s concern about if there’s enough investment going into larger projects outside the U.S. to meet demand. I think when you start going 10 years out, it’s a question about the automobile fleet and mobility.

On the importance of U.S. shale oil production

Exporting countries are here to try to understand how shale works. It’s almost a different industry, and yet now it’s a really important part of the global industry. In percentage terms it’s maybe 5 or 6%, but it’s a very important 6%. This flexibility, reactivity is a key factor in terms of price formation.

About this year’s conference theme, which is “tipping point”:

Last year’s discussion about peak oil demand has turned into this year’s discussion about energy transition.

On what an energy transition really means

In my mind, it’s something that unfolds over decades, a few centuries of energy transition but now it’s being speeded up. In the past it was largely driven by economics and technological advantages. Here, there clearly are attractive features of technologies, but the difference between this one and earlier ones is a much stronger role of government policy.

On climate change’s role in energy transitions

It’s a large part of it. … I don’t know what they [CEOs] acknowledge, if they’re all in exactly the same place on the science, but they all recognize policy changes are occurring and disclosure requirements that are occurring and that the Paris agreement, whether the U.S. is not in it, is a benchmark for companies being evaluated.

On Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services executives joining for the first time this year.

This represents the growth of the cloud and the fact the energy industry are incredibly data-intensive businesses. It’s part of the change in the global economy, this whole digitization, which is a theme that will run through the whole conference.

Go deeper: Old oil seeks Silicon Valley swag

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

The bomb cyclone and atmospheric river seen via satellite on Sunday. The center of the storm is at the middle of the comma shape, due west of Washington State. (CIRA/RAMMB)

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (left) and Sen. Joe Manchin at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.