SOURCE: The Guardian
DATE: October 10, 2019
SNIP: The world’s 50 biggest oil companies are poised to flood markets with an additional 7m barrels per day over the next decade, despite warnings from scientists that this will push global heating towards catastrophic levels.
New research commissioned by the Guardian forecasts Shell and ExxonMobil will be among the leaders with a projected production increase of more than 35% between 2018 and 2030 – a sharper rise than over the previous 12 years.
The acceleration is almost the opposite of the 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 that scientists say is necessary to have any chance of holding global heating at a relatively safe level of 1.5C.
The projections by Rystad Energy, a Norwegian consultancy regarded as the gold standard for data in the industry, highlight how major players seem to be ignoring government promises, scientific alarms and a growing public outcry so they can pump more fossil fuels – and profits – out of the ground.
Rystad bases its work on companies’ assets and a long-term oil price of $65 a barrel, similar to its current level.
The forecast shows an almost 8% rise in the projected output of the top 50 oil and gas companies between 2018 and 2030, which would account for almost two-fifths of the remaining 1.5C carbon budget and increase the risk of heatwaves, hurricanes, forest fires and floods.
At least 14 of the 20 biggest historical carbon producers plan to pump out more hydrocarbons in 2030 than in 2018, according to the Rystad data.
Its analysis shows the US is the centre of the latest global oil boom, with more than four times more new production than the next country, Canada, over the next 10 years.
The expansion will primarily be in the Permian basin in Texas. BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips will be involved, as well as smaller, faster-growing private firms that are together driving this single US state to produce more oil and gas than all of Saudi Arabia by 2030.
Massive new drilling projects are also under way or planned in north-west Argentina, off the Caribbean shores of Guyana, in Kazakhstan’s Kashagan oilfield, in the Yamal peninsula in Siberia and in the Barents Sea.
Separately, the watchdog group Global Witness estimates companies plan to invest $4.9tn in new fields – none of which are compatible with the 1.5C target.
Dieter Helm, an Oxford University academic and government adviser, said oil giants were planning a final fossil fuel “harvest”.
“If we were serious about addressing climate change we would leave some oil in the ground, so there is a scramble among big oil companies to make sure their assets are not the ones left stranded,” he said.
Among publicly traded companies, Shell is forecast to increase output by 38% by 2030, by increasing its crude oil production by more than half and its gas production by over a quarter.
Shell is not alone among international companies planning to pump much more oil and gas, according to the research. The US firm ExxonMobil is expected to increase its fossil fuel production by 35% by 2030, BP by 20% and France’s Total by 12%.
None of the top 20 companies disputed the projections.
In absolute terms, the international oil companies will still be dwarfed by the output of state-run national firms in the future. The biggest, Saudi Aramco, will continue to suck the most fossil fuels out of the ground.