11 Agosto 2022

Interview with Bjørn Otto Sverdrup, chair of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative


What is the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative and what role can the O&G industry play in the energy transition? We asked it to Bjørn Otto Sverdrup, Chair of the OGCI Executive Committee, who will discuss the challenges ahead for the O&G industry and the goals set by the OGCI at the Gastech 2022 conference that will be held in Milan from 5 to 8 September.

What is the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative? What role can the O&G industry play in the energy transition?

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative is a CEO-led organization bringing together 12 of the largest companies worldwide to lead the oil and gas industry’s response to climate change. The OGCI members, and the wider industry, have a vital role to play in accelerating the energy transition as we move from an 80 percent fossil-fuel-based system to a completely zero-emission system.

We need the industry to make investments, engage stakeholders, provide the innovation and use their expertise in delivery to enable society to reach net zero and a circular carbon economy faster.

BP, Chevron, CNPC, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental, Petrobras, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Shell, TotalEnergies: the 12 members of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative

During the conference you are giving a speech about reframing the transition narrative to meet the 20-gigatonne challenge. What is the 20-gigatonne challenge, and what role does energy have in supporting the pathways to net zero?

Each year the world emits around 55 gigatonnes of C02.  33 come from energy, of which 13 come from coal. If we remove coal, that leaves 20-gigatonnes of emissions from the oil and gas industry – this is the challenge that the OGCI is focused on tackling, and it demonstrates the role that our industry has in supporting the pathways to net zero.

We start by reducing the emissions that occur from the production of oil and gas. By eliminating methane emissions, slashing flaring, and electrifying operation we can remove one gigatonne of emissions from OGCI members operations. If we were able to get all the oil and gas companies in the world, including the OGCI members, to do the same, we would remove four-gigatonnes.

1, 4 and 20 gigatons: the challenges facing the OGCI

To meet the 20-gigatonne challenge we need to change the entire energy system to reach net zero emissions. Here, the industry is investing in a wide range of solutions: carbon capture and storage,  low carbon hydrogen, renewables and energy storage, bioenergy and biofuels, synthetic aviation fuels, sustainable mobility and product stewardship,  and digitalization. These solutions, provided at scale, will drive a broad transformation of the global energy system.

The issue of the energy trilemma – security, affordability, and sustainability – is being discussed more openly again due to the current energy market context. Do you see this as a positive or negative for climate action in the energy sector? 

It is very difficult to say there is a “positive” from the current situation. However, from the perspective of the energy system and the climate, it has shone a light on the need to be more efficient with our resources and accelerate the development of infrastructure that we will need to achieve net zero and energy security.

There are now big incentives for consumers, governments, and businesses to invest, cut demand and avoid waste, creating win-win-win opportunities.

The return of the energy trilemma

The announcement of the global methane pledge was one of the major successes of the COP26. What is the oil and gas industry doing to play its part in reducing methane emissions?

The industry recognizes that eliminating methane emissions from the upstream oil and gas industry represents one of the best short-term opportunities for contributing to climate change mitigation and for advancing the goals of the Paris Agreement. In March this year, OGCI members launched the Aiming for Zero Methane Emissions Initiative which calls for an all-in approach that treats energy industry methane emissions as seriously as the industry already treats safety.

In less than six months, the initiative, which supplements other important multi-stakeholder initiatives, has gained support from more than 35 industry organizations. We are now striving to reach our shared goal of zero methane emissions from our operated oil and gas assets by 2030.

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