Solutions looking for problems: Idle capacity and resource repurposing

Is a low oil price only bad for renewables?

Falling oil prices motivates oil and gas firms to shift their resources into low-carbon solutions as part of the effort to combat climate change. By analysing firms’ communications using machine-learning, this project aims to capture the extent to which oil and gas companies redeploy their resources and engineering expertise into such solutions following an oil price decline; doing so could prove a key part of the energy transition.


The challenge

Oil and gas firms respond to high oil prices by investing in exploration and production within the industry. Following an oil price decline, however, they face a shortage in investment
opportunities and stall production.

Such downturns affect both oil and gas producers and the supply chain, and sets up incentives to potentially redeploy and repurpose existing engineering capabilities into new areas.

The intervention

Using text analysis and machine learning methods, this project will explore the extent to which oil price volatility is reflected in firm communications such as annual reports.

In particular, it will aim to study the extent to which oil and gas firms, relative to other firms in the energy industry, focus on redeploying resources and repurposing existing expertise in new settings following an oil price shock.

The impact

Climate change is one of the grand challenges humanity is facing. Developing countries are set to be hit by it the hardest, having contributed to the problem the least.

The ability to build on oil and gas technologies, such as maritime expertise to advance developments in low carbon solutions, such as offshore wind may prove to be an important piece in the energy transition.