LONDON, 2nd December, 2023: The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), the fossil fuel firm ran by COP28 President Sultan al-Jaber, is on course to become the second largest oil producer in the world by 2050 – including state-run and publicly listed operators – according to new Global Witness analysis.
As president of COP28, the annual UN-backed climate summit which this year takes place in Dubai, Al-Jaber is charged with shepherding nations towards more ambitious climate action through sweeping emissions cuts in order to keep the 1.5C Paris Agreement temperature goal within grasp.
Yet the company that he leads plans to produce billions of barrels of oil for decades to come, and it is projected to undertake one of the most aggressive production expansions of any operator by 2030– the year by which both the UN’s climate science body, and Al-Jaber himself, say greenhouse gas emissions must fall by 43 percent by 2030 in order to keep the 1.5C goal within reach.
Using industry data sourced from Rystad Energy, we calculate that assets operated by ADNOC are projected to produce 35.9 billion barrels of oil between the start of 2023 and the end of 2050. Only Saudi Aramco (100.5 billion barrels) is projected to produce more operated oil than ADNOC by mid-century.
ADNOC plans to produce more oil than any of the “Big 5” supermajors – ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, TotalEnergies. In fact, its projected output will positively dwarf that of the European majors; ADNOC’s 35.9 billion barrels is 49 percent higher alone than the projected 24.1 billion barrels production of Shell, BP and Total combined.
As well as the outsized volume of its operated oil production by 2050, ADNOC is also on course to aggressively increase its production in the short term, making it a major global outlier.
Of the top 30 largest operators globally, only Petrobras (47.5 percent) is set to increase oil production faster by 2030 than ADNOC (41.5 percent).
The emissions from ADNOC’s operated oil products alone will total more than 14.3 billion tonnes of CO2e by 2050. That’s significantly more than the annual emissions of China, the world’s largest emitter. It also means that ADNOC’s operated oil and gas alone will burn through nearly 6 percent of the world’s remaining carbon budget to limit warming at 1.5C above preindustrial levels.
Patrick Galey, Fossil Fuels Senior Investigator at Global Witness, said:
“Sultan al-Jaber’s appointment at the helm of critical UN climate talks has rightly prompted scrutiny of his firm’s business model. These findings show how, irrespective of the outcome of COP28, ADNOC plans to produce more oil than nearly every operator on the planet and plans to vastly increase its output – in direct contravention of the scientific consensus around which Al-Jaber is mandated to build negotiations in Dubai.
“Al-Jaber may wish to focus on clever accounting, carbon credits and techno fixes, but the principal driver of the climate crisis are the products his company plans to continue to sell in huge volumes for decades to come.
“If he was serious about climate action he would oversee a rapid and just phaseout of oil and gas, starting with his own business. Sadly, and terrifyingly for those at the frontlines of the climate emergency, he appears to be doing the opposite.”
An ADNOC spokesperson said:
“We recognise the climate imperative and welcome constructive dialogue in support of practical solutions.
“However, your analysis is inaccurate as it does not make any distinction between production capacity and actual production, nor does it reflect the difference between ADNOC’’s production, partner production and UAE total production.”
Global Witness analysed data on the annualised rate of hydrocarbon extraction – that is, production, not production capacity, which is publicly available from ADNOC. It analysed production from all assets ADNOC operates in all its onshore and offshore operations.
“The hard truth is that all credible energy outlooks, including those by the IEA and Rystad, show that both renewable and conventional energy will be required to ensure a just and responsible energy transition,” said the ADNOC spokesperson.
“Inaccurate speculation is divisive and unhelpful, and our focus should be on working collaboratively to accelerate the transition to net zero.”
- The data on ADNOC’s operated oil production for 2023-2050 were 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.
- Using Rystad we ascertained that ADNOC’s operated production, from both its onshore and offshore operations, will amount to 30.9 billion barrels of oil by 2050
- UCube takes into account oil and gas demand to project asset-level supply. Projections are based on data sources including company reporting (e.g., earnings and profits reporting) and policies, government sources, 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.
- Data source from UCube assumes a “mean” warming scenario of 1.9C hotter than pre-industrial temperatures, where global oil demand peaks at 107 million bpd by 2026 and declines progressively to 66 million bpd by 2050. It also assumes a CCUS capacity of 600 million tonnes/year globally by 2030
- We sourced the data of operated production from 2023-2050. The data includes all assets that are currently producing, those under development (assets for which development has been approved but production has not yet started), discovery (assets where discoveries have been made, but are not yet in a phase of further development) and undiscovered (assets where discoveries have not yet been made)
- The data on oil covers only crude oil from the top 100 operators globally. We did not include figures for gas, NGL and condensate, making these conservative production estimates
- We based our emissions calculations on values taken from the European Investment Bank’s 2023 Carbon Footprint Methodologies to arrive at overall end use (Scope 3) emissions volumes from ADNOC’s operated oil and gas production. Carbon budget calculations are based off a carbon budget being roughly equivalent to 250 billion tonnes CO2e in order to retain a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 1.5C, according to the latest peer-reviewed research available here
- ADNOC recently doubled its CCUS capacity goal and now seeks to have 10 million tonnes/annum CCUS capacity by 2030. As its CCUS only applies to its upstream (I.e. scope 1 and 2) emissions, we have not factored this into scope 3 emissions calculations
- Detailed methodology and data available on request