OIL AND GAS GIANTS MOVING INTO RENEWABLES: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR JOB SEEKERS?

The renewables arena is certainly one that energy professionals from all fields are keeping a very close eye on. Aside from the increasing demand for renewable energy sources, there have been growing reports of larger energy firms expanding into this area as well. In our latest blog, we take a look at some of the latest reports of oil and gas energy giants moving into renewables.

Total’s future lies in renewables and LNG

Back in October, French oil and gas firm, Total, published its latest Strategy & Outlook document – and renewables was a big focus in this. The firm revealed that it will continue its focus on reducing emissions while also growing its energy production. Half of this growth will come from liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the other half from electricity, the majority of which will be generated from renewables.

In order to facilitate this growth, the company will be increasing its profitable investments in renewables to US$3 billion per year. All of these measures have been outlined to help the firm achieve its ambition of becoming net-zero by 2050. According to reports, Total’s Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanné told French newspaper Le Parisien that the firm aims to be among the world’s top five producers of renewable energy. 

BP moving into renewables

Energy giant BP has also confirmed its commitment to reducing its oil and gas production and continuing moving into renewables. The company has revealed a strategy for the next decade to achieve its own net-zero ambition.

Part of these plans include:

  • A ten-fold increase in low carbon investment by 2030, with an aim to achieve an eight-fold increase by 2025
  • Lowering emissions from BP’s operations by between 30 – 35% by 2030
  • Decreasing the carbon intensity of the products it sells by more than 15% by 2030
  • Plans to partner with 10-15 cities and three core industries in the firm’s decarbonisation efforts
  • Increase renewable generating capacity from the 2.5GW produced in 2019 to around 50GW

According to a statement on its website: “in the years ahead, BP is going to significantly scale-up our low-carbon energy business and transform our mobility and convenience offers. We will focus, and reduce, our oil, gas and refining portfolio. And, as we drive down emissions on our route to net-zero, we are committed to continuing to deliver long-term value for our stakeholders.”

Equinor transitions beyond oil and gas

With the Norwegian oil major welcoming a new Chief Executive this month, it appears that swift changes are on the cards – and moving into renewables is just one of the plans. According to reports, the incoming CEO Anders Opedal has been tasked with accelerating the organisation’s transition to becoming a broader energy company.

In particular, the firm will be focusing on developing its renewables portfolio. This news is the latest in a number of tactics being implemented by the business to move beyond oil and gas. Back in 2018 the brand was the first in the sector to announce plans to become a more general energy company, dropping the ‘oil’ from its previous name – Statoil – that same year.  

In a statement, Jon Erik Reinhardsen, Chair of the Board of Directors at Equinor, commented:

“Equinor is entering a phase of significant change as the world needs to take more forceful action to combat climate change. The board’s mandate is for Anders to accelerate our development as a broad energy company and to increase value creation for our shareholders through the energy transition.’’ 

Valero Energy profits from moving into renewables

Valero Energy is well-known for operating one of the world’s largest independent oil refiners and is a big name in the oil and gas field. With 15 petroleum refineries and 14 ethanol plants across the globe, it is certainly one of the big players in the sector.

But did you know that Valero Energy also has a stake in the largest renewable diesel plant in North America? In a joint venture with Darling Ingredients, the firm operates Diamond Green Diesel. This part of the business has proven valuable so far, growing 80% in 2019 alone.

ExxonMobil surpassed by solar and wind generator

In perhaps the clearest sign that renewables is a real contender in the energy and utilities space, October saw NextEra Energy overtake ExxonMobil in stock market value. According to A&P Global Market Intelligence, the world’s largest solar and wind power generator had gained two-thirds of its market capitalisation in the last two years.

And the future looks just as promising. Reports from the Financial Times revealed that the firm has announced a pilot programme to use solar electricity to produce hydrogen – a potential replacement fuel for diesel. Projects such as this one have increased investor interest in the business, with its focus on renewables making the firm highly desirable to potential stakeholders.

According to Paul Patterson, analyst at Glenrock Associates: “People are excited about renewables and the transformation happening in the energy sector, and they feel that this is probably one of the better-positioned companies in the United States to exploit that opportunity.”

Shell continues to invest in green energy

As demand for renewables started to increase several years ago, Shell took action to best respond to this changing environment. The firm committed to investing between $4 billion and $6 billion in green energy projects from 2016 until the end of this year. While this target is unlikely to be hit, the Anglo-Dutch company has made a number of critical renewables investments.

In 2018, for example, it bought a 44% stake in the US solar power firm, Silicon Ranch. Shell also allegedly spent around $2 billion setting up a low-carbon energy and electricity generation business. And it’s highly likely that the company will invest further in the renewables field in the coming years.

What does this mean for job seekers?

For those seeking their next energy job, the news of more oil and gas giants moving into renewables demonstrates several key points. Perhaps most importantly, it highlights that wider energy skills can be transferred across to the renewables field. The fact that organisations from other branches of the energy industry are looking into the renewable sector shows that there is significant potential in this field. But, with an on-going skills shortage in this area, these larger oil and gas firms will arguably be seeking extra resources.

It’s highly likely that for many these will come from other specialisms with skills that can be utilised in renewables. If you have experience in oil and gas, for example, and are looking at a new career path, moving into renewables could be perfect for you.

With climate change and sustainability key topics of discussions across the globe, the demand for renewables will only increase. And with this uptick in need for green resources, energy professionals will find opportunities for career changes varied and highly lucrative.

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