Shell Says Its Past Oil Production Peak

Illustration for the article titled Shell Says Its Past Oil Production Peak

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Royal Dutch Shell, one of the major oil companies, said this week that it could confirm that it had reached peak oil production in 2019. As in, it believes it will never produce as much oil again.

Shell also said it believes its carbon emissions peaked in 2018. Shell disclosed both in a press release on Thursday, intending to convince readers that Shell is doing what it can not to contribute further to the climate change.

From Shell’s release, emphasis mine:

  • It will continue with short-term targets that will reduce carbon emissions as we move toward our 2050 goal, linked to the compensation of more than 16,500 employees. This includes a new set of targets to reduce our net carbon intensity: 6-8% by 2023, 20% by 2030, 45% by 2035 and 100% by 2050, using a 2016 baseline;
  • expects its total carbon emissions to peak in 2018 at 1.7 gigatons per year;
  • confirms that its total oil production peaked in 2019;
  • will seek access to an additional 25 million tonnes per year of carbon capture and storage (CCS) capacity by 2035. Currently, three key CCS projects of which Shell is a part, Quest in Canada (in operation) Norway (sanctioned) and Porthos in the Netherlands (planned), will total around 4.5 million tonnes of capacity;
  • aims to use nature-based solutions (NBS), in line with the philosophy of avoiding, reducing and only then mitigating, to offset emissions of around 120 million tons per year by 2030, being the ones we use the highest independently verified quality;


A gradual reduction in oil production of around 1-2% is expected each year, including divestments and natural decline.

All this was enough not to satisfy some environmentalists, according to The New York Times, although that is to be expected; Until we get to the other side of climate change, some things will never be enough. Still, it is insane how fast the oil companies have moved.

Greenpeace UK said in a statement that without specific commitments on production cuts, Shell’s strategy could not be successful or “taken seriously”. Greenpeace also described Shell’s plans to offset emissions by establishing and protecting forests and wetlands as “delusional.”

[Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement of the Church of England Pensions Board] He said the increasingly detailed emission reduction plans emerging from European oil companies are a breakthrough from three years ago, when such discussions were barely underway.

“In that space of time things have moved in a very significant way,” he said.

Let’s not get carried away by praise; This is also a business decision, and large multinational corporations do not bet the future of their business on doing the right thing. But, still, as someone who grew up with old Big Oil: Weird, man.


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