With data now extending through 2020 for most companies and through 2021 data for nine others, NRGI has examined how NOCs responded to the sharp decline in oil prices in 2020 in this infographic. Since the lows in 2020, prices have climbed throughout 2021, reaching record highs this year. However, the way NOCs responded in 2020 may indicate how companies will—or won’t—change course in the face of the longer-term market decline anticipated as the energy transition unfolds.
The energy transition could result in hundreds of billions of dollars of NOC investments in new projects becoming stranded, so it is particularly concerning that many companies remain opaque. For 2020, total revenue information is absent for around half of NOCs, as some do not report at all and others report with significant delays. Also notable absences in this update are Russia’s state-owned enterprises, Rosneft and Gazprom. Their annual reporting would typically be out by this point in the year, and while some news outlets have reported profit data, we have not been able to access any official reports for 2021.
In this round of data collection, we found a few large NOCs (Petrobras, Ecopetrol and Equinor) disclosing capital guidance on planned investments for decarbonization initiatives. This information is crucial to analyzing the energy transition pathways of national oil companies and we will continue researching decarbonization spending to include historical data as an indicator in future editions.
NRGI is using the National Oil Company Database extensively in its research and work on national oil companies and the energy transition. The purpose of the database is to advance public knowledge, and my NRGI colleagues and I find it encouraging to see the database being utilized as a resource in the production of vital research on the future of fossil fuel production such as the Production Gap Report, the EBRD’s Transition Report, and the Environmental Defense Fund’s Transferred Emissions report.
Anna Fleming is a research and data officer at the Natural Resource Governance Institute.