Riyadh plans climate neutrality for 2060 but will continue to pump oil actively

    29 Dec 2021

    Leading oil exporter Saudi Arabia will strive to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2060, its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced on October 23 at the Future Investment Initiative forum ahead of the UN Climate Conference (COP-26).

    Ben Salman stressed that Saudi Arabia would fight climate change while ensuring stability in the oil market. He said that by 2030, 50% of the country’s energy needs would come from renewable energy sources (RES).

    He also noted that the kingdom will join the EU-US Global Methane Commitment initiative to reduce global methane emissions by 30% by 2030 compared to 2020.


    Saudi Aramco will be climate neutral by 2050

    Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporter, followed the prince’s announcement to announce its intention to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

    “Aramco is a unique and powerful platform from which to lead the global industry towards meeting this challenge (zero emissions – Ecolife). And we are pleased to announce today our aspiration to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions at all enterprises of the company by 2050” – the words of the manager of the state investment fund of the kingdom Yasser Al-Rumayyan are quoted in the press release of the company.

    According to the report, Saudi Aramco’s announcement complements Saudi Arabia’s intention to cut greenhouse emissions to zero by 2060. The company plans to disclose more details in its upcoming sustainability report, which will be released in the second quarter of 2022.


    “We will not quit pumping oil!”

    At the same time, the Crown Prince clarified in his speech that the approaches of different governments to reduce emissions are different, and Saudi Arabia will continue to invest in oil and gas production. According to him, the world “cannot function without fossil fuels, without hydrocarbons.”

    According to Dow Jones sources, Saudi Arabia is urging fellow oil producers to speak with a united front at the UN climate conference against cuts in investment in fossil fuels to avoid price increases.

    The kingdom, along with key oil-producing allies including OPEC, has publicly and privately argued that any calls for a cut in investment in new oil and natural gas, endorsed at the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, could lead to rising prices and widening the gap between rich and poor countries.

    The sources say that Saudi Arabia has told global oil executives and international investors that it intends to invest in its oil fields to expand production and has no plans to cap such spending. At a private conference for Bank of America clients and analysts in June, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the country would pump “every molecule” of its hydrocarbons, the sources said.


    The middle isn’t always golden

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in May 2021 that governments and companies must immediately stop investing in new oil and gas fields if the world wants to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

    Alok Sharma, who was in charge of preparing the UK for the UN climate conference, has repeatedly said that he plans to use the IEA’s zero emissions target as a template for negotiations. A spokesman for the UN Climate Change Conference, quoted by Dow Jones, said Sharma “made it clear that all countries need to accelerate the pace of reducing emissions, protecting people and nature from the worst impacts of climate change.” He declined to comment on specific conversations with Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and Saudi Arabia’s envoy at the Glasgow summit, Khalid Abouleif, asked like-minded oil producers, including Nigeria, Kuwait, and Oman, to withdraw the IEA’s investment recommendation, the sources said. The Saudi prince is arguing that a challenging target of zero investment in the development of new oil and gas fields will reduce supply before global demand falls significantly, leading to higher oil prices.

    The investment ban is also unfair to the economies of countries that are overly dependent on the import or export of oil and gas, sources said.


    Energy security VS betrayed climate change

    Earlier, the Minister of Energy of the Kingdom during the CERA Week India Energy Forum focused on the fact that there are many challenges – technological, economic, managerial – on the way to achieving the goal of climate neutrality, and urged governments to make sure that the announced plans are achievable.

    The minister explained that it is necessary to pay close attention to the issues of energy security and climate change points. He expressed confidence that no compromises are needed in favor of one thing – these factors “should go hand in hand.” At the same time, he noted that it is necessary to move towards such an energy transition that “will lead us to the wind and the sun, and not to the one that will lead us to (novel – GD) Gone with the Wind.”

    According to the minister, the country is switching to renewable energy sources and gas and will store vast amounts of CO2, and will also produce both “green” and “blue” hydrogen, as well as “clean oil.” It will do all this with the help of a circular economy. 

    “Let’s work on energy security and protect the climate and hope that we don’t create a sequel to such a great movie like Gone With the Wind,” he concluded.


    The world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, announced it is going net-zero on carbon emissions by 2060, with Bahrain following suit a day later. The UAE has already committed to doing so by 2050. Read how the Gulf is getting serious about climate change here.

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