Supermajors ‘worst climate offenders’

Chevron_Logoexxonmobil22 November 2013, News Wires – Oil giants including ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, BP and Statoil have been identified in a new research report as among only 90 companies most responsible for historic carbon dioxide emissions that are believed to have caused climate change.

The findings of the study by the US-based Climate Accountability Institute reveal the 90 companies have between them generated nearly two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions since the dawn of the industrial age.

They are said to have been responsible for 63% of cumulative emissions between 1751 and 2010, amounting to about 914 gigatonnes of CO2 out of a total of about 1450 gigatonnes, according to the newly published report.

The list of climate offenders includes 50 investor-owned companies, mainly oil supermajors, as well as 31 state-owned companies such as Statoil, Saudi Aramco and Russia’s Gazprom.

ChevronTexaco was the leading emitter among investor-owned companies, causing 3.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, with ExxonMobil not far behind at 3.2%. In third place, BP has caused 2.5% of global emissions, while Statoil was ranked as the 34th largest emitter on the overall list of 90 companies.

Nearly 30% of emissions were produced by the top 20 companies, with half the estimated emissions produced in just the past 25 years, the research found.

Greenpeace Norway leader Truls Gulowsen said the findings of the study show that “Norway has a clear responsibility for the climate problems we are facing”.

He called for the country’s Petroleum Fund to halt its investments in companies named as climate offenders and for Statoil to exit activities that carry a high risk of pollution, such as exploitation of Canada’s oil sands and exploration in the eco-sensitive Arctic region.

Gulowsen along with other Greenpeace demonstrators dressed in polar bear outfits last week disrupted an Arctic oil and gas conference in Oslo to protest over the plight of 30 activists earlier arrested in Russia after trying to board a platform in the Pechora Sea operated by Gazprom subsidiary Gazprom Neft Shelf.

Statoil’s climate director Hege Marie Norheim defended the company’s climate record, saying it had the lowest emissions per-barrel produced among its global peers and that oil sands “is not the most pollutive part of our operations”, according to Norwegian publication Stavanger Aftenblad.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that two-thirds of the world’s fossil fuels must remain untapped if a goal of a two-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures is to be achieved this century.

Norheim insisted this should mean coal being gradually eliminated from the energy mix to make way for less pollutive gas to fire power plants, claiming both oil and gas supplies would be necessary to meet demand towards 2035 – and that would necessitate exploitation of new fields.

However, the IEA’s chief economist Fatih Birol, presenting the agency’s World Energy Outlook last week, said relatively high-priced gas supplies to Europe – a key market for Statoil – would face stiff competition in future from cheaper coal and subsidised renewables.

Cheaper gas supplies from the US, China and the Middle East also pose a threat to Norway’s position as a major supplier to the continent.

Statoil has now reportedly removed the oil price link for prices of all of its gas supply contracts with Germany – and nearly all of its deals with the UK, Netherlands and Belgium – and introduced regional pricing as part of a European Union requirement to create a more open gas market.

Germany intends to source an increasing share of its energy needs from subsidised solar and wind power in a shift towards renewables, with the UK moving in the same direction.

However, Norway is looking to provide Germany with alternative supplies from gas and hydropower to make up for shortfalls in wind and solar energy due to shifting weather patterns, with plans to build an undersea power cable costing up to Nkr16 billion ($2.6 billion) to more closely connect the electricity networks of both countries.

Doubts remain though about the economic viability of the project, which was the subject of high-level talks between Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and German leader Angela Merkel in Berlin this week.

Norway’s Petroleum & Energy Energy Minister Tord Lien is set to meet EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger in Oslo on Friday where he is likely to promote his country’s role as a gas supplier to Europe to curb the continent’s CO2 emissions and maintain competitive energy prices.

– Upstream

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