The Unintended Consequences Of Fossil Fuel Divestment

The Unintended Consequences Of Fossil Fuel Divestment

The stability of the global oil market is under threat. The impact of COVID-19 and the resultant demand destruction has put an ever-increasing amount of oil and gas producers on the path to bankruptcy. At present, the list of U.S. shale oil and gas producers filing for Chapter 11 is growing by the day, while global oilfield services and offshore drilling companies are fighting to survive. Ultimately, this very dire situation is being driven by oil and gas demand and prices, which is why a degree of stability has returned with oil prices back around the $40 mark.  But there is another variable beyond just supply and demand that is now threatening to reintroduce instability to markets. Fossil Fuel Divestment, supported by international governments, international financial institutions, and investors is now threatening to push oil and gas companies into the abyss. In recent weeks, a group of 12 major cities in the EU, USA, and Africa, all pledged to divest from coal, oil, and gas. These cities are home to more than 36 million residents and hold over $295 billion in assets. Led by London and New York City, they have decided to divest from the fossil fuel assets that they directly control and have called on the pension funds managing their money to do the same. The other cities joining the divestment declaration are Berlin, Bristol, Cape Town, Durban, Los Angeles, Milan, New Orleans, Oslo, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver.

Activist investors, in-line with the growing Western media onslaught on hydrocarbon production and use, are putting not only the future of international oil and gas producers at risk but increasingly removing the necessary equilibrium between independent (privately owned) oil and gas producers and the national oil companies. For decades, global oil and gas production has been built on several mainstream structures, including the Texas Railroad Commission, Seven Sisters, and OPEC. These structures have helped to stabilize and structure the market to benefit producers, shareholders, and consumers at the same time. The power balance between the Seven Sisters (which in its modern form consists of Shell, BP, ExxonMobil, and Chevron) and OPEC producers has regulated the $1.7-1.8 trillion oil market through times of financial crisis, regional wars, and Black Swan events. This necessary cooperation or power equilibrium is now being undermined by investors and politicians, threatening not only energy and petroleum product supply to global markets but also diminishing the influence of consumer countries on producers, such as OPEC.  Read more