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Coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp relief the existential threat posed to the world’s biggest oil companies

The coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp relief the existential threat posed to the world’s biggest oil companies from policies aimed at combating climate change by offering a glimpse into a future with little demand for petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

It has also brought to the fore a question with profound implications for the energy industry and Houston, where fortunes rise and fall with the price of oil. Has the virus — in two short but life-altering months — fundamentally changed society and consumer behavior, making it likely that global oil demand would peak earlier than expected, perhaps even during this decade?

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden recently told analysts that oil demand could peak within the decade.

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