Our industry is front and center with any wave of climate change discussion. This is our reality and was the case in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), held in the resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt in November 2022. Reports indicate COP27 had a better outcome than the previous COP26 meeting. So naturally, I want to share this information with our members. There are numerous outcomes that I am certain SPE will be discussing in future meetings and publications. Three aspects, in particular, are the participation of the oil industry in the conference, decarbonization vs. reduction, and attempts to phase out petroleum.

Petroleum industry participants outnumbered every national delegation at the COP27 climate summit. The influence of UAE, the host of COP28 in 2023, showed on the sidelines and in the negotiations with CEOs of several international and national oil companies and oil ministers in attendance. Getting involved in climate change events, presenting the industry’s viewpoint, and explaining the substantial efforts taken to mitigate the climate challenge is essential for our industry to continue, to level the playing field and offer a balanced path to energy security and sustainability that we owe the world based on what our industry can deliver.

UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said at the leaders’ summit, “The UAE is known as a responsible supplier of energy and will continue to play this role as long as the world needs oil and gas.” The Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Egypt, Tarek El-Molla, added, “As the cleanest hydrocarbon fuel, natural gas is seen as the perfect solution that strikes the right balance and will continue to play a key role in the future energy mix.”

Some of the highlights of the conference included:

- The emphasis on decarbonizing, rather than reducing, fossil fuel use was adequately addressed and continually presented as a viable method to help reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

- Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) showcased Al Reyadah, the region’s first commercial-scale carbon capture utilization and storage facility.

- Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy announced the signing of a joint development agreement with Saudi Aramco for one of the largest planned carbon capture and storage (CCS) hubs in the world. The center in Jubail Industrial City will begin operation by 2027 and be able to store 9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) in its first phase, and extract, use, and store 44 million tonnes of CO2 by 2035.

At the 2021 COP26 in Glasgow, coal was named as a problem for the first time, with countries agreeing to phase down its use. In Sharm el-Sheikh, some sought to turn the heat onto other fossil fuels. Egypt never included fossil fuel phaseout language in the draft text, although it does promote renewables and “low-emission” energy. This could be interpreted as gas, which has lower emissions when burned than coal or other fossil fuels, with CCS. The final resolutions of the conference did not include any language to phase down petroleum.

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