Statoil vows to slash carbon emissions by a fifth

Just one day after it was revealed that eight of the world's largest fossil fuel companies were responsible for pollution levels equal to that of the US, Norwegian oil and gas firm Statoil has pledged to reduce its own emissions by three million tonnes by 2030.

The Norwegian firm has introduced a new roadmap for 2030, which will see a 20% reduction in emissions per barrel produced against a 2017 baseline. The three million tonne reduction target will run alongside this, and Statoil is already on track to deliver 1.2 million tonnes in emissions savings from the Norwegian continental shelf alone by 2018 – two years ahead of schedule.

Statoil’s senior vice president for sustainability Bjørn Otto Sverdrup said: “Statoil provides energy to millions of people every day and we want to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and capture new opportunities.

“With this ambitious new roadmap, we demonstrate how we have fully embedded climate in our strategy and decision-making. The roadmap is also a platform for engaging all our employees and an invitation to suppliers, governments and others to work with us in realising our vision of shaping the future of energy.”

Announced on Thursday (9 March), the roadmap will build on savings already issued through Statoil’s upstream and midstream projects, which could create a five million tonne reduction in emissions when combined with the 2030 roadmap. Much of this will be delivered by replacing coal in power production with natural gas and a 15-20% increase in capital investments towards renewables, which is four times larger than today’s share.

Statoil’s oil and gas production, and subsequent emissions, are already below the industry average, with the firm emitting more than 15 million tonnes of CO2 in 2016. In comparison, analysis from CDP suggests that combined emissions from the oil and gas industry accounted for 40% of global emissions released over the past three decades.

The Hateful Eight

In fact, CDP analysis released on Wednesday (8 March) revealed that eight of the largest oil and gas firms have released a fifth of all greenhouse gases outside of the farming and forestry sectors since 1988.

Saudi Aramco, Exxon Mobil, Gazprom, the National Iranian Oil Co., BP, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Petro China and Pemex were accountable for a third of emissions from the oil and gas sector. The research revealed that the eight firms emitted more than 6.5 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2015, comparable to US emissions.

An inquest from Bloomberg revealed that some of these firms believe they are “playing their part” in promoting low-carbon growth by calling for a price on carbon. However, analysis suggests that internal carbon prices being used by these firms are below the necessary amount to slash at CO2 levels.

The willingness of oil and gas companies to funnel money into low-carbon developments is surprisingly high, even if the finances offered seem small in comparison to operational budgets. For example, seven major oil firms – BP, Eni, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and Total – announced a $1bn investment fund aimed at accelerating the development and uptake of low-carbon technologies, in November last year.

While this may seem like a significant investment, it will be distributed over a ten-year period and is dwarfed by the predicted $2trn spent by firms pursuing projects in a potential world where there is no need for coal mines and oil prices have peaked.

Matt Mace

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