Big Oil is investing billions to gain foothold in clean energy
The world’s biggest oil companies are closing more clean energy deals as pressure to diversify their businesses mounts and growth accelerates among green technologies.
Oil majors more than doubled the number of acquisitions, project investments and venture capital stakes, to 44 in 2016 from 21 the year before, according to research published Tuesday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In the last 15 years, they’ve completed 428 transactions and spent $6.2 billion building stakes in clean energy companies.
“This reflects their underpinning strategy to test out new ideas and businesses,” said Richard Chatterton, one of the London-based analysts that authored the report. “The international oil companies are identifying opportunities and building expertise, and when a commercial opportunity becomes clear, they will invest at scale.”
To be sure, the sums expended on clean energy still represent a fraction of the money invested in crude every year, showing that the oil majors are still very much focused on their core business. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, for example, budgeted $25 billion this year for capital expenditures.
Some of the investments by oil majors in projects and startups isn’t disclosed, according to BNEF, which estimates that the clean energy industry attracted almost $290 billion in 2016.
Photo courtesy of James Moran.