The Oil Companies’ Approach To Renewable Energy

Miss Ana Penha

The research for this thesis, submitted in May 2009, focuses on the reasons for oil companies investing (or not) in renewable energy.

During the research stage companies representative of the oil and gas (O&G) market were analyzed. The companies were selected from rankings performed by Petroleum Intelligence Weekly and Platts. The companies are: BP, Chevron, CNPC, ConocoPhillips, Eni, ExxonMobil, Gazprom, NIOC, PDVSA, Rosneft, Saudi Aramco, Shell, StatoilHydro and Total. Of these fourteen companies, ten accepted the invitation to participate in this study and provide invaluable information.

This study has one distinctive difference from other previous published studies. In the past studies about oil companies’ strategies related to climate change have compared only the so called “western” companies such as BP, Shell and ExxonMobil. Furthermore, this study analyses the biggest oil companies independently from their location. This is more significant if we take into consideration the companies with more relevance in the market in terms of O&G reserves or production, for instance Saudi Aramco, NIOC or Gazprom.

To sum up, climate change, energy security and business opportunity are considered important drivers for renewable energy investment. However, these drivers are perceived differently by companies. Each company is unique and their strategy is defined by taking into consideration a combination of internal and external factors. The most influencing factors in an oil company’s approach to renewable energy were found to be: technological development, governmental policy and the relation between the government and the company.

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