Gradually, the major oil groups are seizing the rise of electric vehicles and investing en masse in charging networks. Is this the start of reconversion? Who is hiring? We take stock!
At their peak, oil groups have been among those with the biggest financial gains in history. In 2018 alone, Aramco grossed $ 111 billion, Shell 21.4 billion, ExxonMobil 20.8 billion and Total 13.5 billion.
Nevertheless, several crises have followed one another over the past 15 years. The latest: that of the Covid-19 which, with the confinements, has lowered the barrel below 30 dollars or even to sometimes negative values. Even if a vaccine were to calm the health crisis in a few months, demand for oil may never return to previous peaks. The reason ? The rise of carbon-free or green energies and the pressure of carbon neutrality. The solution for these groups who have long lived on precious black gold? Invest in an activity that they have long disdained: electricity and the electric car.
After the kings of oil, the kings of electricity?
The most active in the field is certainly Total, which has a series of buyouts and takeovers. Recently, the group formalized two great catches: the first in London with the acquisition of the Source London network, until now operated by Bolloré, and the second in Paris where the tanker will take over the management of all charging points. from the capital. Today, the company operates 10,000 terminals in France, with a target of 150,000 in Europe by 2025, of which 1,000 are fast. It also works on battery factories: via Saft with Tianneng in China and with PSA in Europe.
Britain’s BP is also very dynamic, notably with the takeover of the British company Chargemaster in 2018, but also of FreeWire Technology in the USA and the Israeli StoreDot. In 2019, the group was thus able to launch its own terminals. It even extends to the field of VTC in China through a partnership with Didi Chuxing and in Europe through an agreement with Uber in London. The group’s goal is to reach 70,000 terminals by 2030, a first step towards carbon neutrality by 2050, a goal shared with Total.
Another very involved player: Shell, which absorbed Newmotion in 2017 with its 30,000 charging points and 80,000 home terminals. In addition to its own terminals at its service stations across the Channel and in the United States, the Anglo-Dutch company has also joined the Ionity consortium, the leading fast charging network in Europe.
In the United States, two visions
Across the Atlantic, Chevron bet on terminals in 2019 by partnering with specialist EVgo. In contrast, ExxonMobil remains committed to the old world. In large part due to its CEO Darren Woods who sees no value in “electric cars that end up being recharged by energy from coal.” These false words (40% of the world’s electricity comes from coal, 23% in the USA and 0.3% in France) will serve the company which suffers regular setbacks on the stock market, going from large n ° 1 with 450 billion $ in 2014 to less than 140 billion, behind… Chevron.
What’s the point of having “electric vehicles that will end up being charged by power generated from coal” – Exxon $ XOM CEO Darren Woods # OGCI2019 pic.twitter.com/AurCok1x9d
– Devika Krishna Kumar (@Devikakrishnak) September 23, 2019
Energy companies are also in the green
Obviously, the energy companies did not fail to respond to the oil companies. EDF launched its Sodetrel subsidiary early on, which became Izivia, however without much success for the moment with the Corri-door network. The French group has however invested in PODpoint, a huge network in the United Kingdom, and is seeking to anticipate the rise of V2G with its subsidiary Dreev. His compatriot, Engie, bought EVBox, a large European operator. Another important acquisition in Europe: that of the Finnish Fortum taking control of Plugsurfing.
Green electricity is also a major issue for oil groups. Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s most profitable state-owned company in the world, has announced the largest solar array on the planet. If it is still virtual, the country has confirmed 30 billion dollars of investment and aims for 40 GW of solar and 16 GW of wind. Total, which has only 7 GW of solar and wind power today, is targeting 35 GW in 2025, including 15 in Europe. BP is counting on 50 GW in 2030, compared to 2.5 GW in 2019, for example with a partnership with Equinor in the United States.
Still in the minority compared to the ultra-dominant oil sector, these subsidiaries or projects show that the tide is turning. Yesterday’s oil groups are on the way to becoming multi-energy giants. With the colossal financial capacities acquired thanks to the precious black gold, they clearly have the means!