For the energy industry, a volatile and uncomfortable year lies ahead. 2016 begins with oil prices under renewed pressure, a result of OPEC's apparently open-ended strategy of maximising supply. Gas and coal prices are also at multi-year lows. In this Insight, we consider five critical macro themes to watch over the next 12 months: China's pivotal year as the country enters a new, more mature phase of growth; Geopolitical tension - a volatile Middle East could lead to yet more pressure on oil prices; What could stop the commodity cycle from turning? 2016 could see OPEC members shifting focus to maintaining individual market shares; Low tide for commodity-producing economies. Low prices and interest rate normalisation in the US are putting pressure on emerging market commodity producers through 2016; Corporate – a year of survival. Radical action is needed to balance the books, and companies will need to start adapting to sustained low commodity prices.