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Analysis shows lucrative oil giants investing a fraction of outsize profits in renewables

Green house gas emissions.

European oil giants are investing a small fraction of their mammoth returns in green energy initiatives, according to analysis.

Research from Channel 4 News found that BP (LON:BP), Shell (LON:SHEL), Equinor (OSLO:EQNR) and TotalEnergies (LON:TTE) racked up pre-tax profits of over £74 billion in the first half of 2022.

Of that total figure, the equivalent of only around 5% has been invested in renewables or low-carbon project.

That is despite all four companies having made pledges to boost their green energy portfolios to aid the wider drive to zero out emissions.

BP reported pre-tax profits for H1 2022 of around £12bn, but spent just £300 million on low carbon during the period, the equivalent of 2.5%, Channel 4 found.

For comparison, the London-listed supermajor splashed out £3.8bn on new oil and gas projects.

Fellow oil giant Shell posted half adjusted earnings of around £17bn, investing the 6.3% of that figure in low carbon energy.

The amount the company spent on oil and gas also greatly outstripped the figure spent on green energy.

Plans to transition

In their defence, TotalEnergies, Equinor, Shell and BP have laid out how they plan to ramp up their low carbon spending in the coming years.

All four companies are now heavily involved in a number of low carbon activities, particularly offshore wind.

BP, Shell and TotalEnergies were all successful in the ScotWind leasing round, and are now progressing their projects, which will likely come to fruition towards the end of the decade.

Equinor also entered the hotly-contested process but failed to secure seabed space.

The Norwegian state-owned company already has a strong track record in offshore wind though, particularly in Scotland where it launched the world’s first commercial floating wind farm.

BP, Equinor and Shell are also heavily involved in carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen, with a drive amongst energy companies more generally to diversify their portfolios.

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