Renew or Die
Written by Enrique Lendo, Business Development Mexico Advisor.
Large oil and gas companies have been consolidating their positions in global markets with products that meet the needs of industrial production, mobility, electricity generation and other industries of modern economies. Without question, they are a strategic industry rarely challenged and even underregulated by governments. It has also been rewarded by capital markets with high rates of return and moderated risk factors despite their externalities. In 2020, five oil and gas companies toped the “Fortune 500” ranking. However, recent socio-economic trends will compel this industry to “adapt or perish”.
Firstly, innovation and technological development have boosted access to oil and gas substitutes along value chains in global and domestic markets. Renewable energy is gaining momentum due to reductions in the cost of production, increase of storage capacity and more reliable distribution technology. In 2020, 29% of electricity produced globally will come from renewable sources.
Secondly, oil and gas prices are extremely sensitive to fluctuations in international markets. Decreasing trends in oil demand for the past few years were exacerbated by mobility and other restrictions imposed to address the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first semester of 2020, oil demand faced a 20% contraction and prices went down to levels not seen for decades.
Thirdly, climate change impacts have made evident the urgency to transit towards a low carbon development model. In 2015, over 190 countries subscribed the Paris Agreement with the objective to stabilize the increase in global temperature at 1.5 °C by the end of the century. The energy sector contributes with over 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions and, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), oil and gas production will have to decrease 55% by 2050 to meet the Paris Agreement goals.
Provably, the decisive factor to drive the transformation of the oil and gas industry will be the emerging perception of climate risk in capital markets. Last month BlackRock, the largest asset holder in the world, punished 53 companies due to its weak performance on climate action, including some of the largest oil and gas companies. In the same line, international financial groups are introducing specialized climate solution tools. City Group recently set a $250 billion dollar climate financing target by 2025 and Morgan Stanley will become the first large American bank to publicly disclose the climate change impact of its products.
It is in this context that oil and gas companies with long term vision have begun adapting to the changing environment. This past June, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, which gathers a group of companies with a 30% of the production share in the industry, subscribed a carbon intensity reduction target consistent with the Paris Agreement. And last week, British Petroleum (BP), the fourth largest oil company in the world, released its strategy to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, which will very likely set a new benchmark in the industry. BP will go from an oil company to an energy solutions corporation charged with renewable and low carbon products in its portfolio.
In the framework of the Covid-19 economic crisis, even the most polluting companies and industries are presented with the opportunity to reinvent themselves to survive in the long term. What path will Pemex and Mexican energy companies chose?
Article originally published in Mexico´s newspaper Reforma.</span