Skip to content

☁️ "How to Realistically Decarbonize the Oil and Gas Industry"

TED Climate

Photo by Zakaria Zayane / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Bjørn Otto Sverdrup
Category: ☁️ Carbon Reduction

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:37] “Two thirds of the energy system is coming from fossil fuels. So basically, we cannot fix climate without fixing the energy system. And the one industry that needs to make the biggest change is the oil and gas industry. Many are blaming the oil and gas industry, giving up on it ever changing. […] I still believe that we are better off not ignoring this industry. Let's instead try to turn it into to help drive the change we need to see.”

[2:21] “I lead an organization called Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, OGCI. It brings together 12 of the largest companies in the world, and their CEOs. The members, household names, are actually producing every day nearly 30% of the world's oil and gas production. Even if some of you would like these companies to just disappear, what they are doing matters to all of us everyday. Changing the energy system is going to be hard. We need to turn from a 80% fossil fuels-based system to a completely zero emission system. That would require massive investments, radical policy shifts, and us changing behavior. We need to balance that transition with the needs of nature, fairness, and also to avoid shortage of energy and economic dislocations. And time is very limited.”

[3:41] “One framework of what I believe we can do […] [is] One, four, 20 challenge. That is one gigaton, four gigatons, and 20 gigatons of CO2. Have in mind the entire CO2 emission system is 55 gigatons, 33 related to energy, 13 of those coal […]. So the 20 is the sum of the emissions from […] oil and gas. Let's start with the one. So when […] the members of the organizations producing oil and gas, they are having emissions, mainly from compressors and turbines. So they use energy to provide energy. The scope one emissions. So the first challenge is to bring those emissions to zero. A few weeks ago, the CEOs came together and for the first time signed up on the shared ambition to bring all their own emissions to net zero within the timeframe set by the Paris Agreement. […] They've never done that before. And to me, that was a significant step. How are we going to do that? Eliminating methane emissions, slashing flaring, electrifying operations, and in a bit longer a few distant future, we will need to use hydrogen in our own operations, carbon capture storage and other solutions. Each of the companies will have different ways of fulfilling their netzero ambition.”

[5:33] “You might say it doesn't matter, or it's not enough. But daring to say net zero changes minds. It shifts your mindset from one of defensive to proactive, from incremental change to having your eyes on the end goal. I've seen this happen in my own company called Equinor in Norway. A few years ago, we decided to strive for net zero. You know what happened? Deep changes in attitudes and behavior of all of the employees started to unfold, not only among the top management. Thousands of engineers started to look at new solutions […]. Renewables started to become interesting. Investment plans changed. Cash started to flow differently. Now, one gigaton is only a part of the challenge. But it's quite big. To put it into perspective, it's the combined emissions of all airplanes in the world.”

[6:41] “The four gigaton challenge - that is the price if you're able to get all of the oil and gas companies in the world to accept the same ambition. […] 4 billion tonnes of CO2 each year, that is equal to 7% of the world's total emissions. A price that is so big that we cannot ignore it. How can we do that? We believe that we can lead the way by helping to set ambitions, setting targets and also to help countries to identify […] problems. We have set targets. We also have some shorter term targets towards 2025 for our own performance, but we are also setting targets that can inspire the industry. Recently, we also acquired satellite services to help countries better monitor the methane leaks for instance, a very big part of the challenge.”

[7:42] “The good thing with this industry is that we know how to solve the problems. But we also know that an enabling policy environment will accelerate the change. Particularly important thing is a price on carbon. In some countries $50 per tonne would drive change. In my own country, Norway, the plan now is to increase that to nearly $200 by 2030. That is driving change.”

[8:14] “The one and the four gigaton challenge is both about improving the existing energy system. What we need to do is of course to also build a future energy system and new solutions. The 20 gigaton challenge, as I call it, is a very different challenge. It's the truly collective one. Supply needs to change as [does] demand. And we need to find a way of doing that as quickly as possible and as orderly as possible. The oil and gas industry can of course decarbonize quicker themselves, but they can also help others achieve their decarbonisation efforts.”

[9:06] “Oil and gas companies are starting to see themselves as energy companies and act like it. Renewables is becoming the fastest growth area. For Equinor […] for instance, the next biggest new project is not another oil and gas platform, it's actually a offshore wind farm development in the North Sea [with a] $10 billion investment with the capability to power 4.5 million homes in the UK. Further up north in the UK, Shell, BP and other companies are involved in developing carbon capture and storage industry. That will help cement steel and other industries meet their climate efforts. This used to be future music, but now it is happening. […] Similarly, in hydrogen, synthetic fuels, biofuels, quite a lot of things are happening. […] Believing is important, but at the end of the day, we will be judged by how we actually deliver on the one, four and 20 gigaton challenge. The race is on.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 14 min | 🗓️ 01/26/2022
✅ Time saved: 12 min

Additional Links:
Video: TED Climate - "How to Realistically Decarbonize the Oil and Gas Industry"