LONDON 4th September, 2023 – The oil and gas firm ran by the president of COP28 climate talks is set to spend more than $1 billion every month this decade on fossil fuels, despite its claims to be a leading green energy provider, Global Witness analysis has found.  

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) announced in January this year that it was earmarking $15 billion for investment in “low-carbon solutions” by 2030.  A week later its CEO Sultan al-Jaber was unveiled as COP28 president, a move that caused dismay among climate organisations and US and EU lawmakers.  

Global Witness has found that Al-Jaber’s company is planning to spend more than $100 billion between now and 2030 on oil and gas production alone – that’s an average of $1.14 billion every month, and nearly seven times more than its planned “low-carbon solutions” spend over the same period.  

In 2030 – the year by which the United Nations says planet heating carbon emissions must be slashed by 45 percent – ADNOC is forecast to spend $13.2 billion on oil and gas alone, a 43-percent increase compared with current levels.  

Both the UN and the International Energy Agency say that no new additional oil and gas production is compatible with the Paris Agreement temperature goal of limiting heating to 1.5C. Our analysis shows ADNOC is planning to spend at least $150 billion on new oil and gas production.  

Al-Jaber, who also heads ADNOC’s renewables subsidiary Masdar, has said that keeping 1.5C within reach will be at the “top priority” of COP28 discussions in Dubai in November. 

Having brought forward plans to increase its production capacity to 5 million barrels per day, ADNOC is more than doubling its capex on oil and gas projects by 2025. Capex and operating costs combined are set to increase 6 percent in 2024, 42 percent in 2025 and a further 16 percent in 2026, according to our analysis of Rystad Energy industry data.  

In two years alone – 2026 ($16.1 billion) and 2027 ($16 billion) – ADNOC’s spending on oil and gas will outstrip its “low-carbon” investment for the entire decade. 

ADNOC recently announced it would seek to become net zero by 2045 (6). Our analysis shows that it plans to spend $13.9 billion on producing oil and gas in that year alone. Between today and 2050, by which the UN says the entire global economy must achieve net zero emissions, ADNOC is projected to have invested $387 billion in oil and gas. 

Patrick Galey, Senior Investigator at Global Witness, said: 

“Fossil fuels companies like to burnish their green credentials, yet they rarely say the quiet part out loud: that they continue to throw eyewatering amounts at the same old polluting oil and gas that is accelerating the climate crisis. 

“The International Energy Association and the UN says that no new oil and gas projects are compatible with 1.5C, yet Al-Jaber’s own company ADNOC plans to invest hundreds of billions in order to produce highly polluting fossil fuels for decades to come. During the two weeks of COP alone, it will spend nearly half a billion dollars on oil and gas.  

“How he can expect to lecture other nations on the need to decarbonise and be taken seriously is anyone’s guess, while he continues to provide vastly more funding to oil and gas than to renewable alternatives. He is a fossil fuel boss, plain and simple, saying one thing while his company does the other.” 

In response to questions from Global Witness, an ADNOC spokesperson said:  

“The analysis of, and assumptions made, regarding ADNOC’s capital expenditure program beyond the company’s current five-year business plan (2023 to 2027) are speculative and therefore incorrect. 

“The world’s population is expanding, and with-it energy demand is increasing. All of the current energy transition scenarios, including by the IEA, show that some level of oil and gas will be needed into the future. As such, it is important that, in addition to accelerating investments in renewables and lower carbon energy solutions, we consider the least carbon intensive sources of oil and gas and further reduce their intensity to enable a fair, equitable, orderly, and responsible energy transition. This is the approach ADNOC is taking. 

“Our 2022 upstream emissions data confirms our position as one of the least carbon intensive producers in the world, and we are the first company among our peer group to accelerate our net zero ambition to 2045. We are further reducing our carbon intensity by 25% and targeting near zero methane emissions by 2030. As we reduce our emissions, we are also ramping up investments in renewables and zero carbon energies like hydrogen for our customers.”