Saudi Aramco CEO warns of unrest if fossil fuel investment dwindles too quickly

Amin Nasser, CEO of Saudi Aramco, gestures during a panel session on the third day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Thursday, January 23, 2020.

Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Amin Nasser, chief executive of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, on Monday urged world leaders to continue investing in warming fossil fuels in the coming years, arguing that the assumption that the world could switch to clean energy “overnight “Was wrong. “deeply mistaken”.

Speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Houston, Texas, Nasser argued that switching to cleaner fuels too quickly could cause unchecked inflation and social unrest and ultimately violate national emission targets to curb carbon pollution.

“I understand that public recognition that oil and gas will play an important and significant role in and beyond the transition period will be difficult for some,” Nasser said during a conference on low carbon strategies and technologies.

“But accepting this reality will be much easier than dealing with energy insecurity, rampant inflation and social unrest as prices become unacceptably high and the commitments of zero-zero countries begin to crumble,” he continued.

Nasser’s remarks came amid growing pressure on the oil and gas industry to limit exploration and production of fossil fuels and move towards renewable energy development as countries set new targets to reduce carbon emissions to combat climate change.

The International Energy Agency warned in May that investments in new oil and gas projects must be halted immediately so that the world can achieve zero emissions by 2050 and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

To keep the global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius, the world will require the world to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by almost half over the next decade and reach net zero emissions by 2050, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The earth has already warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and temperatures are expected to rise by 2.4 degrees Celsius by 2100.

But other global energy leaders at the conference, including executives from Exxon and Chevron, also argued that demand for oil and gas will remain strong in the coming years, despite efforts to move towards a clean energy economy.

“Oil and gas continues to play a central role in meeting the world’s energy needs, and we play an important role in delivering them with lower carbon emissions,” Chevron CEO Mike Wirth told the conference. “Our products make the world work.”

On Monday, Exxon unveiled plans to achieve zero emissions from its oil and gas operations in West Texas and New Mexico by 2030 as part of efforts to reduce emissions across its entire business. During the conference, CEO Darren Woods highlighted the continuing need for fossil fuels in the face of the transition to clean energy.

“The fact remains that under the most likely scenarios, including zero-sum paths, oil and natural gas will continue to play an important role in meeting the needs of society,” Woods said.

Global demand for fossil fuels has skyrocketed this year as the global economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. And global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels growth is projected to 36.4 billion tonnes this year compared to 2020, noting an increase of 4.9%.

President Joe Biden announced last month that the US, in coordination with China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom, would open up a strategic oil reserve and release 50 million barrels to calm explosive fuel reserves this year. Prices.

“While my remarks today may create opposition, I know that if we do not act as an industry, no one else will be speaking on our behalf,” Nasser said.

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