Despite the worldwide momentum toward clean energy, two of America’s oil giants have recently placed significant bets on fossil fuels. Both Exxon Mobil and Chevron have announced massive acquisitions in the past month, revealing a strong belief in the long-term viability of oil and gas. In a surprising move, Chevron confirmed plans to acquire Hess for $53 billion in stock. This follows Exxon Mobil’s revelation less than two weeks earlier of their purchase of Pioneer Natural Resources for a staggering $59.5 billion in stock.
Despite the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) recent report projecting an all-time high in global demand for fossil fuels by 2030, the IEA’s executive director, Fatih Birol, stands firm on the unstoppable transition to clean energy. However, Chevron and Exxon’s acquisitions suggest they’re bracing for a contrasting future.
Larry J. Goldstein, former president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, underscores the industry’s belief in sustained oil demand. “Big oil companies are deeply committed to the industry, expecting strong oil demand for the next two to three decades,” he remarked. Ben Cahill, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, notes that current global oil consumption is near record levels. The belief is that major US oil and gas producers see a prolonged future for oil demand.
While investments in clean energy surge, continued demand for oil and gas remains due to global population growth, especially in rapidly developing regions like Africa and Asia. As Shon Hiatt, director at USC Marshall School of Business, explains, “In emerging economies, adopting low-carbon energy sources might be prohibitively expensive. Oil and gas are still vital, especially in Europe and North America.”
Both Exxon and Chevron are expanding while European counterparts face tighter emission regulations. Some experts speculate these American oil majors are capitalizing on European divestments. Amy Myers Jaffe, from New York University, believes that geopolitical sanctions against state-controlled oil companies in Russia, Venezuela, and Iran present strategic opportunities for American firms.
Accessibility and speed are key. Shale oil, especially from the Permian basin, is attractive due to its quick-to-market potential, explains Marianne Kah from Columbia University. Both recent acquisitions have strategically positioned Exxon and Chevron to tap into these reserves rapidly, providing them with flexibility in a volatile price climate.