In a speech at the Oil and Money Conference in London, Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser took aim at current measures to reduce the impact of climate change, instead offering four strategies that he said would be more effective.
"Without a doubt, oil and gas will be here for many decades to come," Nasser said. "But there can also be no question that climate change is among the most significant challenges facing humanity."
In his view, climate protection measure have primarily focused on replacing hydrocarbons with renewables for power generation, and on using electric vehicles for light passenger transport.
"The serious flaw in this approach is its exceptionally narrow focus, as electricity accounts for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and light duty passenger vehicles only about eight percent," Nasser said. "In other words, the focus on only about one-third of total GHG emissions. And that is why I strongly believe we need to think differently."
He continued to outline four strategies, which he said could make global climate protection efforts "much more effective."
That includes widening focus from light duty transportation and power generation, and "paying attention to all the other economic sectors that jointly account for about two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions."
It also means focusing government research and development funding not simply on new energy sources, but on the existing ones which will not be replaced for a long time.
Nasser also stressed the importance of moving from a linear economy-where materials are turned into products and then thrown away- to a circular economy, which emphaises reusing, repairing and recycling to close the loop and increase sustainability.
"Carbon and a wide variety of other materials and resources can be similarly transformed into circular systems," he noted, which also applies to emitted carbon, which can be recaptured and stored or used in upstream operations.
But he went further to suggest that circular economies should work in tandem, noting the importance of "tak[ing] advantage of the greenhouse-gas reduction synergies across economic sectors offered by the circular economy, which will be lost if we work on various sectors in isolation, or focus only on a selected few."
Saudi Aramco boasts one of the lowest carbon intensities in the upstream segment, with 10kg of CO2 equivalent produced per barrel of oil. Its Master Gas System and the elimination of flaring has seen CO2 emissions from the ompanny reduce by around 100mn tonnes per year.
But the way its end-products are used is also key, and the company's research and development centre is working on higher-mileage, lower-carbon integrated engine-fuel systems, ways to use carbon, and developing clean hydrogen from oil as an energy source.
"...In my view, this more comprehensive approach is vital, because looking at the global energy mix for the foreseeable future, I see both new energy sources and existing sources contributing in parallel," he said.
In his keynote speech at the World Energy Congress, he urged policymakers to consider the complexities of the energy sector, and to set realistic policies, a theme he echoed at the Oil and Money Conference.
"...I urge governments around the world to work closely with us to develop pragmatic policy solutions to deliver ample, reliable, safe, affordable and at the same time sustainable energy to the world."