Adnoc’s oil and gas emissions to increase by 40% by 2030, analysis finds

The oil company run by the president of this year’s UN climate conference is set to increase the emissions from its oil and gas products by more than 40% by 2030, according to analysis by Global Witness.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) produced about 957 million barrels of oil and 62 billion cubic metres of gas last year and this is set to increase to 1.3 billion barrels and 88 billion cubic metres respectively in 2030.

Adnoc’s CEO, Sultan Al-Jaber, who is also the president for the UN climate talks at Cop28, has emphasised publicly the need to phase down fossil fuels but this analysis has found his company may be doing the opposite.

Global Witness said they used industry-standard projections published by the research firm Rystad Energy on the expected levels of future production and calculated the subsequent increase in carbon emissions.

Looking at oil and gas assets owned or operated by Adnoc, including untapped reserves predicted to be used to meet future demand, they calculated that carbon emissions from oil and gas produced by the company will rise from 487 million tonnes of CO2 this year to 684 million tonnes in 2030 – an increase of just over 40%.

The analysts said this is a conservative estimate as it does not include other forms of hydrocarbons produced by Adnoc such as natural gas liquids or condensate.

Known as scope three emissions, these are the greenhouse gases produced when oil or gas is burnt for fuel or used in products such as plastics.

They account for the vast majority of emissions associated with oil and gas yet most companies that produce fossil fuels, such as Adnoc, do not take them into account in their net-zero plans, including only those generated in the extraction process itself.

Adnoc disputed the findings saying Global Witness mistakenly analysed the company’s production capacity – which is set to increase to more than 1.8 billion barrels of oil a year by 2030.

But when presented with Rystad’s definition of the figures used by Global Witness which does not mention capacity – “production is the expected annualised rate of extraction of hydrocarbons” – Adnoc did not reply.

Mr Al-Jaber said fossil fuels will still be needed in future while society transitions to renewables (Joe Giddens/PA)

Patrick Galey, senior fossil fuels investigator at Global Witness, said: “At a time when we need a rapid, equitable and widespread reduction in the pollution we produce, Al-Jaber presides over a firm that is planning an oil and gas production bonanza.

“This Jekyll and Hyde presidency of crucial climate negotiations is now a critical concern.

“The need for everyone to pull in the same direction in order to slash emissions and safeguard a liveable future for all of us has never been clearer.

“Keeping the boss of a fossil fuel company heading in the exact opposite direction as president of Cop28 looks more baffling by the day.”

Last week, Mr Al-Jaber described the phase-down of fossil fuels as “inevitable” and “essential”, while stopping short of saying they need to be phased out.

Addressing oil and gas companies at an energy conference in Abu Dhabi last week, he said they are “central to the solution” and while the 1.5C target in the Paris Agreement is their “North Star”, he said oil and gas companies must also continue fuelling the growth of human society.

Many campaigners have called into question Mr Al-Jaber’s credibility in the upcoming climate talks given his role as Adnoc’s CEO, raising concerns about the ambition or robustness of any agreement made.

Observers of the talks have said for some years that representatives from the oil and gas industry should be excluded, given that they profit from the production of gases that are heating the planet and destabilising the climate.

An Adnoc spokesperson said: “We recognise the climate imperative and welcome constructive dialogue in support of practical solutions.

“However, the analysis by Global Witness is misleading as it makes no distinction between production capacity and actual production.

“Inaccurate speculation is divisive and unhelpful, and our collective focus should be on working collaboratively to accelerate the transition to net zero.”