The largest private-sector oil and gas companies have signaled an intention to increase their investments in lower carbon energy sources and technologies. This is not the first time. However, the increasing drumbeat arising from new climate change accords, investor activism, and shifts in public opinion suggest that the larger energy firms may find that without demonstrable activity, their “social license” to operate comes under increasing pressure.
Some industry forecasters predict that oil demand may peak and decline as soon as the 2030s – less than the lifetime of an upstream project starting up today. For the foreseeable future, however, oil and gas companies will have to find the right balance between continuing to seek returns from their historic oil and gas businesses while increasing their participation in an inherently different alternative energy industry.
In this paper, Simon Ede and E Wah Wan look at the potential scale of investment in renewables and questions that arise as companies organize around this challenge.
Regulation on electric vehicles is more centrally coordinated in Europe than the US, but strategic decisions remain for both