Big Oil’s $198B Divestment Windfall Outpaces Green Spend

This article first appeared on the BNEF mobile app and the Bloomberg Terminal.

  • Just $45B invested in clean energy over the same period
  • Shell and TotalEnergies lead divestment and clean spend

The world’s largest international oil companies, or IOCs, sold over $198 billion of assets between 2015 and 2020, over four times the amount they invested into clean energy technologies.

The proceeds of asset sales were instead used to invest in new fossil fuel projects, to pay down debt, or to pay dividends. This was at a time when oil prices weakened, falling from a high of almost $115 per barrel in 2014, to below $28 in 2020.

New Energy Outlook 2021 Learn more

European IOCs notably diverged from their U.S. peers. Equinor was the only IOC to see clean energy investment outstrip divestment proceeds.

Despite high levels of divestment from ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips, they collectively invested just $757 million in clean energy, only 1% of the divestment proceeds. Most assets sold were located in Europe, indicating that investor and policy pressure to decarbonize may be driving IOCs decisions to offload assets. BNEF anticipates that decarbonization strategies will lead to more sales proceeds being redirected into clean technologies.

BNEF Shorts are research excerpts available only on the BNEF mobile app and the Bloomberg Terminal, highlighting key findings from our reports. If you would like to learn more about our services, please contact us.

About BloombergNEF

BloombergNEF (BNEF) is a strategic research provider covering global commodity markets and the disruptive technologies driving the transition to a low-carbon economy. Our expert coverage assesses pathways for the power, transport, industry, buildings and agriculture sectors to adapt to the energy transition. We help commodity trading, corporate strategy, finance and policy professionals navigate change and generate opportunities.
Sign up for our free monthly newsletter →

Want to learn how we help our clients put it all together? Contact us