Stock market rewards oil major that promises to slow its shift to low-carbon energy

Stock market investors know that alternative energy doesn't pay off, despite the constant hectoring about it being the wave of the future.  So, when one of the oil majors announced that it was slowing down its previously announced efforts to convert to the production of low or non-carbon energy, its shareholders were rewarded with a substantial rise in its stock price.  Barrons reports:

Shares of oil major BP BP +3.50% were rising on Tuesday after it said it would ease its transition to producing low-carbon energy.

Investors cheered the company's decision to lower its oil-and-gas output at a slower rate than previously targeted. BP (ticker: BP) will now try to reduce fossil-fuel production in 2030 by 25% from 2019 levels. That compares with a previous target of a 40% reduction.

The reversal from CEO Bernard Looney is a response to criticism that its focus on environmental, social and governance issues may be hurting its share price. Way back in the early 2000s, then-CEO John Browne gave a speech in which he said the company needs to go Beyond Petroleum, not long after the firm had officially changed its name from British Petroleum to BP.

Keep in mind that BP's market capitalization is massive, $112 billion, so a 3.5% rise in its stock price is a significant market move.

Here is the commitment the company made back then.

Pivoting to low energy and customer focus

  • 10-fold increase in low carbon investment by 2030, with up to 8-fold increase by 2025
  • partnering with 10-15 cities and 3 core industries in decarbonization efforts and doubling customer interactions to 20 million per day, all by 2030

Focusing resilient hydrocarbon business on value:

  • capital intensity decreasing as major project wave completes, combined with continued efficiency focus, to drive earnings and ROACE growth
  • production declines by 40% by 2030 through active portfolio management
  • no exploration in new countries

Delivering on net zero ambition

  • emissions from bp's operations 30-35% lower by 2030
  • emissions associated with carbon in upstream oil and gas production 35-40% lower by 2030 
  • carbon intensity of products bp sells lower by more than 15% by 2030

Delivering long term value for shareholders

  • reset resilient dividend of 5.25c/share per quarter, with commitment to  return at least 60% of surplus cash as share buybacks
  • profitable growth with 7-9% annual growth in EBIDA per share to 2025
  • sustainable value with increasing investment in low carbon and non-oil and gas

Of course, you can expect this announcement of economic rationality to increase pressure to force ESG criteria on investment funds, cheating their clients of the full returns they might earn in order to counter a hypothetical danger from CO2.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky.

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