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Climate Week Update: Big Oil CEOs Talk Climate Change, Methane and Why They Need Natural Gas


By Simon Casey and Naureen S. Malik

(Bloomberg) One of the opening events of Climate Week in New York offered a rare sight — nine bosses of some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies in one room. The occasion was the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, an industry-supported organization whose members set targets to reduce methane emissions and gas flaring. Present Monday were the chief executive officers of companies including BP Plc, Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA. They took questions from reporters and activists.Here are some highlights:

Ben van Beurden, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell:

“Ultimately, (the) Paris (agreement on climate) is going to be met..In the end it is the responsibility of industry, companies like us, to make sure that the transition is going to be as orderly as possible and not going to be disruptive.”

“Natural gas could be a part of the solution.”

Darren Woods, CEO, Exxon Mobil:

The energy industry has gone through transitions for decades. “I don’t see this a threat, it’s an evolution of the industry” and from past experiences evolution is driven by technology. “We look at that challenge as a natural evolution.”

Patrick Pouyanne, CEO, Total:

“The only question is the pace at which society — not only us — society will accept to make this transformation.”

Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:

The energy industry could “either put the nail in the coffin of all the global efforts (on climate change) or be the industry that develops and delivers the solution.”

“Let it not be questioned that we have to be net zero (carbon emissions) by 2050. That is ’50 at the latest.”

Mark Brownstein, Senior Vice President, Environmental Defense Fund:

The energy industry gets an “A” for effort but not for following through with actions. While the OGCI represents about 30% of global oil and gas production, that could be more than 50% if it brings on board the national oil companies and other partners. “Some may need to be brought along kicking and screaming.”

Ahmad Al Khowaiter, CTO, Saudi Aramco:

The dual issue of rising energy needs and climate concerns is “something that we struggle with as an industry. It’s something we also see as critical.”

First low-hanging fruit is transportation. “The need is so great and the time is so short.”

Vicki Hollub, CEO, Occidental Petroleum:

Carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology is there but has to be exploited on a broad scale. Occidental wants to build the world’s largest atmospheric carbon capture plant in the Permian Basin. When it comes to acting on climate change, “failure is not an option.”

Eldar Saetre, CEO, Equinor:

“Flaring is one of the biggest issues as it’s a waste and bad for the industry’s reputation…we can do something about it.”

Mike Wirth, CEO, Chevron:

“Very soon nobody is going to be able to hide from methane leakage” because of satellites and other detection technologies.”



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