As the IPCC warns against
new fossil fuels, it's business as usual for big polluters.
12 April 2022, London – Just 20 of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies, including the likes of Shell, Exxon and Gazprom, are projected to spend $932 billion by the end of 2030 developing new oil and gas fields, according to new analysis of Rystad Energy data by Global Witness and Oil Change International.
And by the end of 2040, this figure grows to an even more staggering $1.5 trillion, the analysis shows. It comes the same week that the world’s leading climate scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) laid out the stark warning that using “far less fossil fuel than today” is “fundamental” if the world is to stand any chance of keeping global warming below the critical threshold of 1.5C, as per the Paris Agreement. All 20 of the companies assessed claim to support the multilateral framework.
The IPCC report also saw Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, describe new fossil fuel infrastructure investment as “moral and economic madness”. But using data from Rystad Energy showing the forecasted spend of some of the biggest fossil fuel companies, we can show that they are expected to spend $405 billion on new gas projects and $527 billion developing new oil fields.
Russian state company Gazprom is set to spend the most on new gas fields ($124 billion), with Qatar Energy second ($56 billion) and Total Energies next ($32 billion). Shell is placed fourth for gas at $28 billion. Whilst three American firms top the list for new oil extraction with Exxon ($59 billion) the highest, Chevron ($57 billion) and Conoco Phillips ($56 billion) making up the rest of the top three.
Juliana Gaertner, Global Witness Gas Campaign, said:
“With the global reliance on fossil fuels underpinning so many of the world’s current crises, the UN Secretary General is absolutely right; investing in more would be madness. Yet this is exactly what the fossil fuel industry is intending to do. Nothing could be more stark an example that when it comes to the climate crisis, big oil and gas are the problem.
“Pull back the PR, tear away the greenwash, and unwrap the false promises - in whatever way fossil fuel companies dress it up, they are throwing exorbitant sums towards prolonging the fossil fuel dependent world they have created. At the very least these companies could be putting this money toward a genuine transition to renewables rather than ploughing it into yet more climate-wrecking fossil fuels."
Lorne Stockman, Research Director at Oil Change International, said:
“From the day the Paris Agreement was signed these companies have been out of compliance. In the subsequent six years, they have polished their statements and honed their PR and lobbying, while recklessly pursuing oil and gas production growth.
"The industry is substantially responsible for bringing us to the brink of disaster, following decades of climate denial, lobbying against action and pushing for continued government support. Now, as the window for action is closing, they continue to look for growth. It is past time governments cut them off. No more tax breaks or public finance for oil and gas. We’re beyond second chances.”
Following this analysis and in line with the IPCC report, Global Witness and Oil Change International are calling on governments and investors across the world to stop funding new oil and gas developments immediately. They need to ensure the fossil fuel industry goes into a managed decline that aligns with the Paris Agreement’s ambition to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C
Top 10 companies for projected fossil fuel development and exploration for the period 2022- 2030:
We asked Gazprom, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell and TotalEnergies to comment on our findings.
ExxonMobil highlighted its “$15 billion investments in lower-emissions technologies”, pointed out the International Energy Agency’s net-zero scenario which modelled approximately $11tn investments in oil and gas development to meet energy demand and explained that “based on currently anticipated production schedules, a substantial majority of ExxonMobil’s year-end 2021 proved reserves are expected to have been produced by 2050.”
Chevron commented on their plans to reduce the “carbon intensity” of the oil and gas they produce and “profitable, lower carbon new energy businesses that leverage our strengths”.
ConocoPhillips pointed to their plan for the “net zero energy transition” which addresses the carbon intensity of their products and opportunities for the company to invest in carbon capture, hydrogen and offsets but rejects targets that would reduce their production.
TotalEnergies commented that they expected to spend around $12.8bn investing in “greenfield and exploration” projects between 2022 and 2026 and they believe Rystad’s projections to be an overestimate adding that they have objectives for developing renewables and electricity production.
Gazprom and Shell did not respond.