April 12, 2022

Collin Rees, Oil Change International,
Dominic Kavakeb, Global Witness,

World’s biggest fossil fuel firms projected to spend almost a trillion dollars on new oil and gas fields by 2030

As the IPCC warns against new fossil fuels, it’s business as usual for big polluters.

LONDON — Just 20 of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies, including the likes of Shell, Exxon, and Gazprom, are projected to spend USD 932 billion by the end of 2030 developing new oil and gas fields, according to new analysis of Rystad Energy data by Oil Change International and Global Witness.

By the end of 2040, this figure grows to an even more staggering USD 1.5 trillion, the analysis shows. It comes just after the world’s leading climate scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) laid out the stark warning that using “far less fossil fuel than today” is “fundamental” if the world is to stand any chance of keeping global warming below the critical threshold of 1.5ºC, as per the Paris Agreement. All 20 of the companies assessed in this new research claim to support the multilateral climate framework.

The IPCC report also saw Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, describe new fossil fuel infrastructure investment as “moral and economic madness.” But using data from Rystad Energy showing the forecasted spend of some of the biggest fossil fuel companies, we can show that they are expected to spend USD 405 billion on new gas projects and USD 527 billion developing new oil fields.

Russian state company Gazprom is set to spend the most on new gas fields (USD 124 billion), with Qatar Energy second (USD 56 billion) and Total Energies next (USD 32 billion). Shell is placed fourth for gas at USD 28 billion. Whilst three American firms top the list for new oil extraction with Exxon (USD 59 billion) the highest, Chevron (USD 57 billion) and Conoco Phillips (USD 56 billion) making up the rest of the top three.

Lorne Stockman, Research Director at Oil Change International:

“From the day the Paris Agreement was signed these companies have been out of compliance. In the subsequent six years, they have polished their statements and honed their PR and lobbying, while recklessly pursuing oil and gas production growth.

“The industry is substantially responsible for bringing us to the brink of disaster, following decades of climate denial, lobbying against action and pushing for continued government support. Now, as the window for action is closing, they continue to look for growth. It is past time governments cut them off. No more tax breaks or public finance for oil and gas. We’re beyond second chances.” 

Juliana Gaertner, Global Witness Gas Campaign:

“With the global reliance on fossil fuels underpinning so many of the world’s current crises, the UN Secretary General is absolutely right; investing in more would be madness. Yet this is exactly what the fossil fuel industry is intending to do. Nothing could be more stark an example that when it comes to the climate crisis, big oil and gas are the problem.

“Pull back the PR, tear away the greenwash, and unwrap the false promises — in whatever way fossil fuel companies dress it up, they are throwing exorbitant sums towards prolonging the fossil fuel dependent world they have created. At the very least these companies could be putting this money toward a genuine transition to renewables rather than ploughing it into yet more climate-wrecking fossil fuels.”

Following this analysis and in line with the IPCC report, Global Witness and Oil Change International are calling on governments and investors across the world to stop funding new oil and gas developments immediately. They need to ensure the fossil fuel industry goes into a managed decline that aligns with the Paris Agreement’s ambition to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Top 10 companies for projected fossil fuel development + exploration, 2022-2030 (all in billion USD): 

Company Total Planned Spend Planned Gas Spend Planned Oil Spend
Gazprom 139 124 15
ExxonMobil 84 24 60
Chevron 67 10 57
Qatar Energy 66 56 10
Saudi Aramco 62 12 51
TotalEnergies 62 32 30
Petrobras 60 4 55
ConocoPhillips 58 2 56
Shell 46 28 18
CNOOC 38 11 27

We asked Gazprom, ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell and TotalEnergies to comment on our findings.

ExxonMobil highlighted its “$15 billion investments in lower-emissions technologies,” pointed to the International Energy Agency’s net-zero scenario which modeled approximately USD 11 trillion investments in oil and gas development to meet energy demand, and explained that “based on currently anticipated production schedules, a substantial majority of ExxonMobil’s year-end 2021 proved reserves are expected to have been produced by 2050.”

Chevron commented on their plans to reduce the “carbon intensity” of the oil and gas they produce and “profitable, lower carbon new energy businesses that leverage our strengths.”

ConocoPhillips pointed to their plan for the “net zero energy transition” which addresses the carbon intensity of their products and opportunities for the company to invest in carbon capture, hydrogen and offsets but rejects targets that would reduce their production.

TotalEnergies commented that they expected to spend around USD 12.8 billion investing in “greenfield and exploration” projects between 2022 and 2026 and they believe Rystad’s projections to be an overestimate adding that they have objectives for developing renewables and electricity production.

Gazprom and Shell did not respond.

Read the analysis: