Making big oil companies greener doesn’t solve the “oil problem”

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– Publicly-traded oil companies are smaller than their state-owned counterparts.
– These state-owned companies are likely to pick up the oil projects sold off by the public oil companies.

This Bloomberg Opinion piece by Julian Lee is entitled “Bashing Big Oil Won’t Save the Planet” – and gets to the heart of the matter: that the biggest oil companies in the world are privatized. Here is an excerpt:

It is those companies that are most likely to pick up the oil projects sold off by the majors to reduce their carbon footprints, as my Bloomberg News colleagues Rachel Adams-Heard, Laura Hurst, and Kevin Crowley wrote here.

Wherever it is, the oil these companies have discovered will be produced by someone, as long as the demand for it exists and prices are high enough. If they don’t pump it themselves, they can sell it to someone else. Or they can walk away, leaving it to the local governments, which will no doubt find other companies to develop them, ones not necessarily subject to the same sort of environmental oversight either.

That’s why we can’t tackle the climate problems simply by forcing publicly-listed oil companies to pump less of it. As long as there is demand for oil, someone will supply it.

This article by Sasja Beslik is one of the best out there I’ve seen summarizing the fossil fuel problem – it’s entitled “Stuck in a fossil past, present and future.” And here’s another useful article from Sasja about oil companies.

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