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December 5, 2023

Adnoc at centre of ‘breathtaking conflict of interest’, says BankTrack

Adnoc’s headquarters in Dubai. CEO Sultan Al-Jaber’s presidency of COP28 has caused controversy in light of the company’s fossil fuel expansion plans (Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)
Adnoc’s headquarters in Dubai. CEO Sultan Al-Jaber’s presidency of COP28 has caused controversy in light of the company’s fossil fuel expansion plans (Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images)

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s oil and gas expansion plans leave the company and its chief executive, COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber, in a tricky position

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s plans to expand oil production by 25 per cent until 2030, twinned with its chief executive Sultan al-Jaber’s presidency of COP28, have created a “breathtaking conflict of interest that will leave an indelible stain on this year’s climate negotiations”, according to a report by non-profit BankTrack.

The report, which also takes aim at Adnoc’s oil and gas partners as well as its financiers, accuses the company of “pushing the United Arab Emirates beyond 1.5C”. BankTrack says that over 92 per cent of the planned expansion is incompatible with the International Energy Agency’s “net zero emissions by 2050 scenario”, which assumes that no new oil and gas assets would be given the green light for development after 2021. 

“Adnoc thus has the highest absolute overshoot of any company in the world,” the report says.

The report also criticises energy giants for partnering with Adnoc. Of the 17 upstream expansion projects in the UAE, just one is owned by Adnoc, while the rest are majority-owned by the company alongside international partners such as Eni, TotalEnergies, BP and ExxonMobil.

Nineteen companies from 12 countries are invested in the UAE’s upstream oil and gas expansion plans, BankTrack says.

The non-profit criticises banks for providing loans to Adnoc – for example, Standard Chartered provided a loan issued in January 2023 alongside Chinese banks ICBC and Bank of China. 

“Net zero commitments are of zero relevance if they do not lead to companies hell-bent on continuing to extract oil and gas for decades to come being cut off from business altogether,” says BankTrack executive director Johan Frijns. “Time is fast running out for banks to draw this lesson from their own climate rhetoric.”

The report was published amid controversy surrounding Jaber’s position as COP28 president, following news reports that he did not believe a phasing-out of fossil fuels was necessary to limit global warming to 1.5C. In response, Jaber told a press conference on December 4 that he “respected the science”.

Adnoc and all other energy companies and banks mentioned have been contacted for comment. 

You can read the full report here

A service from the Financial Times