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Hydrocarbon has role in ‘fair’ energy transition, says Adnoc

An Adnoc petrol station in Sharjah. The oil giant aims to raise production capacity to 5m barrels per day Shutterstock/Arnold OA Pinto
An Adnoc petrol station in Sharjah. The oil giant aims to raise production capacity to 5m barrels per day
  • Conventional energy still needed
  • Greenpeace agrees
  • Coal, oil and gas produce 90% of CO2 emissions

Adnoc believes hydrocarbons will play a role in the energy transition despite their contribution to climate change, the Abu Dhabi state oil company has told AGBI.

“All credible energy outlooks” show that “both renewable and conventional energy will continue to be needed to ensure a fair and responsible energy transition,” said a spokesperson.

“We recognise the imperative to drive down emissions while responsibly providing the energy the world needs,” the spokesperson added.

Coal, oil and gas account for more than 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to the United Nations.

Greenhouse gas emissions from Adnoc’s upstream operations – oil and gas production and processing – came to 24 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2022. The company said this was a reduction of 5.4 million metric tonnes.

It does not publish company-wide data on scope 1 and 2 emissions, those that an entity creates through its operations, from processing to the electricity used to light its offices and the petrol used by its vehicles. However, Adnoc has set a target to reduce the intensity of scope 1 and 2 emissions by 25 percent by 2030, based on a 2019 baseline.

Herwig Schuster, a Greenpeace strategist based in Vienna, conceded that there was still a need for oil “especially for aircraft and probably also for shipping”.

Schuster said: “If Adnoc and other oil companies use solar and wind energy and make synthetic kerosene for aviation and synthetic diesel for shipping, that would be a huge help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Greenpeace is opposed to any new oil exploration, however.

Schuster said: “If there are existing oil fields from which oil companies could extract more crude, that’s something we acknowledge is needed for the time being.”

Adnoc’s $150 billion capital expenditure plan includes an expansion in its oil production capacity to 5 million barrels a day by 2027.

However, its spokesperson stressed that this does not necessarily mean output will increase: “We would only ramp up production should demand require it as a means of enhancing energy security.”

Close-up on scope 3 emissions

Scope 3 emissions are those for which a company is indirectly responsible: those produced by its suppliers in providing materials or services and – most importantly for an oil and gas company – those generated when its products are used.

An oil major’s operational energy use represents only 1 to 3 percent of total emissions when the fuel it sells is included, according to Greenpeace.

The Adnoc spokesperson said: “Collaboration and innovation will be key to addressing emissions across all sectors and across the supply and demand side of the energy value chain. Adnoc is working with our customers to help them transition to new energies such as hydrogen.”

Research from the Climate Accountability Institute has found that Adnoc was the world’s 13th-largest CO2 emitter for the years 1965 to 2020. When scope 3 emissions are included, the company’s total figure for the period was 16 billion metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent, 291 million tonnes a year on average.

Greenpeace’s Schuster said: “Adnoc can still be in the oil business, but it will be synthetic and made from non-fossil carbon sources. Oil companies don’t have to shut down completely. They have a future, because the world will need energy, but it’ll be a different energy at a lower demand.”

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