Net zero Oil Majors: four cardinal virtues?

Attaining ‘Net Zero’ can uplift an Energy Major’s valuation by c50%. Specifically, this means emitting no net CO2, either from the company’s operations (Scope 1&2 emissions) or from the use of its products (Scope 3). This 19-page report shows how a Major can best achieve ‘net zero’ by exhibiting four cardinal virtues. Decarbonization is not a threat but an opportunity.

Can carbon-neutral fuels re-shape the oil industry?

Fuel retailers have a game-changing opportunity seeding new forests. They could offset c15bn tons of CO2 per annum, enough to accommodate 85Mbpd of oil and 400TCF of annual gas use in a fully decarbonized energy system. The cost is competitive, well below c$50/ton. It is natural to sell carbon credits alongside fuels and earn a margin on both. Hence, we calculate 15-25% uplifts in the value of fuel retail stations, allaying fears over CO2, and benefitting as road fuel demand surges after COVID.

On the road: long-run oil demand after COVID-19?

Another devastating impact of COVID-19 may still lie ahead: a 1-2Mbpd upwards jolt in global oil demand. This would trigger disastrous under-supply in the oil markets, stifle the economic recovery and distract from energy transition. This 17-page note upgrades our 2022-30 oil demand forecasts by 1-2Mbpd above our pre-COVID forecasts. The increase is from road fuels, reflecting lower mass transit, lower load factors and resultant traffic congestion.

Decarbonize Heat?

Natural gas currently fuels two-thirds of residential and commercial heating, which in turn comprises c10% of global CO2. We have assessed ten technologies to decarbonize heat, including heat pumps, renewables, biogas and hydrogen. The lowest cost and most practical solution is to double down on natural gas, alongside nature-based carbon offsets. Global gas demand for heating should continue rising by 3bcfd per year.

Biofuels: better to bury than burn?

The global bioethanol industry could be disrupted by a carbon price. Somewhere between $15-50/ton, it becomes more economical to bury the biofuel crop, rather than convert it into biofuels. This would remove 8x more CO2 per acre, at a lower total cost. More conventional oil could be decarbonized with offsets. Ethanol mills and blenders would be displaced. The numbers and implications are outlined in this 12-page report.

US shale: the quick and the dead?

It is no longer possible to compete in the US shale industry without leading digital technologies. This 10-page note outlines best practices, process by process, based on 500 patents and 650 technical papers. Chevron, Conoco and ExxonMobil lead our screens. We profile where they have an edge, to capture upside in the industry’s dislocation and recovery. Disconcertingly absent from the leader-board is EOG, whose long-revered technical edge may now have been eclipsed by others.

Conservation agriculture: farming carbon into soils?

One-third of the atmosphere’s post-industrial CO2 does not derive from fossil fuel combustion but from the degradation of soils, where organic carbon has fallen from 4% to 1-2% due to mechanized agriculture. Conservation agriculture rebuilds soil carbon. It can sequester 3-15 bn tons of CO2 per year, generating carbon credits, while restoring loss-making farmlands to exceptional profitability. Fertilizer demand would be decimated.

LNG: deep disruptions?

The last oil industry crisis, in 2014-16, slowed down LNG project progress, setting the stage for 20-60MTpa of under-supply in 2021-23. The current COVID-crisis could cause a further 15-45MTpa of supply-disruptions, after looking line-by-line through our database of 120 projects. The result is a potential 100MTpa shortfall in 2024-26. This is negative for energy transition, but positive for LNG incumbents.

Oil markets: the aftermath?

Oil and gas pricing could rebound sharply to the upside after the COVID crisis. Where we have long feared 2-3Mbpd of structural over-supply, continuing out to 2025, our new models suggest an 85% chance of under-supplied markets from mid-2021 onwards, following the loss of 4.5Mbpd of shale growth and c3Mbpd of greenfield growth. This 4-page note argues it is not impossible for oil prices to surpass $100/bbl in the aftermath of COVID.

What oil price is best for energy transition?

It is possible to decarbonize all of global energy by 2050. But $30/bbl oil prices would stall this energy transition, killing the relative economics of electric vehicles, renewables, industrial efficiency, flaring reductions, CO2 sequestration and new energy R&D. This 15-page note looks line by line through our models. We find stable, $60/bbl oil is ‘best’ for the transition.