2nd October 2023, London – Just five of the world’s biggest fossil fuel firms, BP, Chevron, Exxon, Shell and TotalEnergies, are set to spend $15 million every single hour between now and 2030 producing more oil and gas, according to new analysis of Rystad Energy data by Global Witness.
Published in early September, the UN’s Global Stocktake showed that governments are failing to deliver on their promise of keeping global heating below 1.5C under the Paris Agreement. This analysis shows how the oil and gas industry is continuing to pour vast resources into the long-term production of planet-wrecking fossil fuels, in the face of a climate crisis already destroying lives.
It shows that the five companies are forecast to spend a staggering $3.1 trillion by 2050, on both existing and new oil and gas extraction. This is one third more than the companies spent over the past 25 years ($2 trillion). When including not only known reserves but also probable oil and gas reserves that are yet to be discovered, the total forecast of spending increases to $3.8 trillion. Almost half this spending ($1.8 trillion) is on the extraction of new oil and gas, as opposed to projects where drilling is already taking place.
Both the United Nations and the International Energy Agency say that no new oil and gas projects are compatible with the 1.5C warming goal.
US-based Exxon is the biggest spender at $851 billion, followed by Shell with $696 billion, the French firm TotalEnergies is on course to spend $637 billion, Chevron $590 billion and UK’s BP $362 billion.
Sarah Biermann Becker, Senior Investigator at Global Witness, said:
“Wildfires, floods, heatwaves are the new global reality, but for the oil and gas industry it’s business as usual. This is a crisis with millions of victims already and many more to come. The immediate priority must be to stop its number one cause – the extraction and burning of coal, oil and gas.”
“Peel back the lofty claims and greenwash, and these numbers make it absolutely crystal clear. Energy giants like Exxon and Shell will keep putting the future of the planet in jeopardy and injecting trillions of dollars into new oil and gas unless they are forced not to. As ever, it is profit over people, financial gains over our futures, and oil and gas extraction over everything.”
“It adds insult to injury that this eyewatering spending comes off the back of record profits for these companies, during an energy crisis that has seen energy bills go through the roof for millions. They got richer, we got poorer, and they’re spending that money on perpetuating this crooked system that is also destroying the planet. How and why governments are failing to get a grip on such an obvious and perverse situation is truly astonishing.”
The UN’s 2021 global emissions gap report showed that governments’ energy plans would lead to about 57% more oil, and 71% more gas in 2030 than is consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5C. This means that at least half of oil and gas spending by 2030 is not consistent with 1.5C.
Global Witness’ analysis in August revealed that these five companies are forecast to produce oil and gas, which when burnt, will emit nearly 47 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050. This is equivalent to almost 1/8th of the remaining global carbon budget for staying below 1.5C. Fossil fuels are the largest contributor to global climate change and responsible for almost 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions.
Notes to editor
- These companies were selected because they are the five largest integrated private sector oil and gas companies based on revenue as of 2023, according to Thompson Reuters data via Statista.
The data on forecast oil and gas capex, exploratory capex and opex was sourced from energy business intelligence agency Rystad Energy’s UCube database. UCube is an integrated field-by-field database of the global upstream oil and gas market, covering the time span from 1900 to 2100. Rystad’s data is widely referenced by major oil and gas companies, the media and international bodies such as the IEA.
Forecast expenditure on oil and gas production is based on data sources including company reporting (e.g., earnings and profits reporting) and policies, government sources and policies, energy service reporting, energy agencies and academic research and news articles. Where reported data is unavailable, data is modelled based on the above sources and supported by a comprehensive database of global oil and gas fields.
We used UCube to show forecast nominal capex, exploration capex and opex for the period 2024-2030 as well as 2024-2050 (and added one quarter of spending data from 2023). The forecast assumes a rate of 2.5% inflation per year. For total spend the data includes assets that are already producing (all assets that are currently producing), under development (assets for which development has been approved by companies and government but production has not yet started) or discovery (assets where discoveries have been made, but are not yet in a phase of further development). For new investments we included Rystad’s discovery and undiscovered life cycle category. The latter covers assets with estimated quantities of oil and gas that are probably present but have not yet been proven by drilling. The data covers only crude oil and gas production, not other hydrocarbons such as natural gas liquids (NGL) and condensate, making these conservative production estimates.