As petroleum-free future looms, oil companies eye investing in renewables

New York, Dec 10 (IANS): Red lights are flashing for petroleum companies: The European Union and several US states starting with California will ban the sale of new cars and vans powered by petrol and diesel in 2035.

Petroleum producers are looking for off-ramps to take them off the petrol and diesel highway and turn to renewable sources, both as a survival tactic in a world of petroleum-free transportation and as a gesture to the vociferous climate change chorus.

"Oil firms are essentially attempting to figure out how the best presently available cash cow in the world can be replaced for the benefit of their own sustainable future," Matthias J Pickl, an economics professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia, was quoted in NS Energy.

Oil majors are “progressively positioning themselves for the proclaimed energy transition” and wind and solar are taking an increasingly important role in the energy industry, he has written according to NS Energy.

In India, the Reliance conglomerate with a giant petroleum footprint has announced plans for a New Energy ecosystem making solar, wind, batteries, hydrogen, and bio-energy platforms.

Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani has committed Rs 75,000 crore for this transformation.

Total, the French oil company, announced this year that it will invest $300 million in a joint venture with Adani Green Energy in wind and solar farms project.

This year, Total says it will be investing $5 billion overall in low-carbon energies, which would be higher than its capital investments in oil and gas.

Its wind and solar investments in wind and solar power stretch to Europe and the US.

Oil-rich Qatar has also invested $500 million in Adani Green Energy.

Shell, the British oil giant, has also turned to India for one of its big investments in alternative energy buying Solenergi Power Private Limited, which runs wind and solar farms and manages related infrastructure, and the Sprng Energy Group for $1.5 billion.

Shell invested $3.5 billion in the renewable sector last year and again this year.

The US petroleum giant Exxon-Mobil is taking a different approach from the other oil majors, focusing on decarbonisation, biofuels and hydrogen, rather than wind and solar.

It has plans to spend $17 billion over the years 2022 and 2017 on these projects.

It’s not only oil companies that are going into renewable energy, but also oil producers.

Saudi Arabia is eyeing investments of $266 billion in the clean energy sector that will include plans to become an exporter of hydrogen.

The United Arab Emirates has announced plans to invest $54 billion in renewables over the next seven years with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

But the path to new energy transformation is bumpy.

British Petroleum rebranded itself as BP for “Beyond Petroleum” in 2000 with an ambitious plan to invest in renewables and reduce the fossil fuel component.

But after investing in solar and wind-powered generation and in charging station networks in Europe, it announced this year that it will be increasing investments in fossil fuels citing the geopolitical situation and the need for energy security.



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