The Future for Oil & Gas Majors: Activity in the Low Carbon Space & Market Reactions
This paper explores the influence of the green energy transition on oil and gas majors – namely, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, BP, and TotalEnergies. Specifically, this study examines greenhouse gas emissions reductions strategies, investments in the low carbon space, and public market reactions to the energy transition. The global energy supply is forecasted to shift rapidly from hydrocarbons – oil, natural gas, and coal – to cleaner, lower-emission sources – hydrogen, bioenergy, solar, and wind – as economies target a net zero emission future. It is important to understand the strategies oil and gas majors are employing to drastically reduce their carbon footprint and position themselves within the energy transition. Using corporate sustainability reports and press releases, this paper analyzes empirical data relating to the energy transition, delving into the respective strategies of each oil and gas major. Additionally, this paper uses event studies to analyze abnormal returns on low carbon activities over time. The results indicate that emissions are starting to decline, but future net zero targets are inconsistent and relatively ineffective. Further, it finds that the U.S. majors lag behind their European counterparts, employing mitigative strategies whereas the European majors are building diversified portfolios of renewable energy technologies. Finally, it finds that activity in the low carbon space does not have a significantly accretive or dilutive effect on the market capitalization of each major.