Here's a bit more from Birol's remarks at the Senate hearing, and later in the day at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Renewables: He talked up the growing cost-competitiveness of renewable power worldwide.
- “We expect that around the year 2020, most of the renewables in the world may not need any more subsidy. They can be competitive with every traditional sources of energy.”
- “Sometime soon, in five years or so, we may see in many countries — most countries I should say — especially for solar and onshore wind, we may not need subsidies.”
Oil supply: Birol is still worried that investment in finding and developing new oilfields is lagging.
- “2016 and 2017 were not only the lowest number of discoveries we had, but also the lowest number of sanctioned resources. This is very depressing in a world in which we lose every year on average about 2 million barrels per day because of the decline of the existing fields," he said at CSIS.
Geopolitics: Overall, he said the U.S. is "becoming the undisputed global oil and gas leader." Birol repeatedly noted the leverage that the U.S. oil and natural gas boom gives the country in foreign affairs.
- “I am sure Secretary Tillerson, in the international negotiations with his counterparts, is sitting on his chair much more comfortably compared to his predecessors," he told the Senate committee.
Defending IEA: The agency has taken all kinds of heat for a years-long pattern of underestimating the growth of renewable electricity deployment worldwide. But Birol defended the agency's analyses, noting they model only existing policies.
- “Our aim is not to guess the future. We are just giving a framework for the policymakers, for the industry to think [about] where the world is heading with the current policy framework,” he said at CSIS.
Go deeper: His prepared Senate testimony is here, and the archived webcast from the CSIS event is here.