Skip to main content

Divestment risks pushing fossils into even less scrupulous hands

by Gilbert Dowding, Apr 22
2 minutes read

Oil majors, the old foes of the environmental movement, are starting to sell their drilling and extraction assets so that they can start to meet corporate transition targets. Private, even less virtuous money is waiting in the wings to snap up these assets.


So what?

The calculations for whether we are moving forward will need to be much more nuanced than counting the stream of glossy announcements about how companies are ditching their old ways. Vigilance is needed to track the behaviours of the organisations that pick up these assets. It is especially important since – in an effort to extract value from tired sites – they often resort to cutting even more corners than the majors did: allowing more leaks and spills.

As well as smaller organisations such as Hillcorp buying up BP’s Alaskan fields, there are some nation-states looking to increase their portfolio who represent much the same problem of being less accountable than what went before.

Focus, therefore, shifts back to how governments internationally can control supply and demand. Even if the big players answer to their better angels (and much protesting and financial self-interest), at the moment someone worse is coming along to have a go at making money from fossil-fuel ventures deemed too damaging or risky for some of the 20th Century’s greatest villains.



by Gilbert Dowding Spotted 1 signal

Have you spotted a signal of change?

Register to receive the latest from the Futures Centre.
Sign up

  • 1
  • Share

Join discussion

  • Joy Green says:

    Great signal! and yes, really points to the need for a strategy to retire the fields and infrastructure to avoid a fossil zombie problem…

  • Related signals

    Our use of cookies

    We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We'd also like to set optional analytics cookies to help us improve it. We won't set optional cookies unless you enable them. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

    For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookies page.

    Necessary cookies

    Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

    Analytics cookies

    We'd like to set Google Analytics cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. The cookies collect information in a way that does not directly identify anyone. For more information on how these cookies work, please see our 'Cookies page'.