Revealed: UAE plans huge oil and gas expansion as it hosts UN climate summit

Revealed: UAE plans huge oil and gas expansion as it hosts UN climate summit

The United Arab Emirates, which is hosting this year’s UN climate summit, has the third biggest net zero-busting plans for oil and gas expansion in the world, the Guardian can reveal. Its plans are surpassed only by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The CEO of the UAE’s national oil company, Adnoc, has been controversially appointed president of the UN’s Cop28 summit in December, which is seen as crucial with time running out to end the climate crisis. But Sultan Al Jaber is overseeing expansion to produce oil and gas equivalent to 7.5bn barrels of oil, according to new data, 90% of which would have to remain in the ground to meet the net zero scenario set out by the International Energy Agency.

Adnoc is the world’s 11th biggest oil and gas producer and delivered more than a billion barrels of oil equivalent (BBOE) in 2021. However, the company has big short-term expansion plans, the new analysis shows, with plans to add 7.6 BBOE to its production portfolio in the coming years – the fifth largest increase in the world.

The data was produced for the Guardian by Urgewald, a German NGO, from its Gogel database. This is based on data from Rystad Energy, the industry standard source but not available to the public, and accessed in September 2022.

In November 2022, Adnoc announced a $150bn investment over five years to enable an “accelerated growth strategy” for oil and gas production. Independent experts rate the UAE’s climate targets and policies as “highly insufficient”, while the UN secretary general recently called for the “ceasing [of] all licensing or funding of new oil and gas”.

Recent statements by Al Jaber also appear difficult to reconcile with Adnoc’s huge plans for new oil and gas production. At a “Road to Cop28” conference in Dubai on 15 March, Al Jaber said: “We [the world] have to rapidly reduce emissions.” The following day, at an International Energy Agency roundtable event, he said: “Oil and gas companies need to align around net zero.” In February, Al Jaber said: “We in the UAE are not shying away from the energy transition. We are running towards it.”

Photo:, AFP/Getty Images

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