Power Line: Oil-industry salaries — Companies ranked by clean-energy spending — Exxon warns of job cuts

In February, BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, declared that the oil giant would become a net-zero emissions company by 2020. Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to Power Line, a weekly energy newsletter brought to you by Business Insider.

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Happy Friday!

I’m back in NYC after a 16-hour drive from Iowa. Don’t worry, I was sure to bring the pumpkin I accidentally grew back with me as a memento of my extended midwest summer.

Will it last until Halloween? Only time will tell.

Anyway … it was a busy week as earnings carried on. Oil-turned-energy giant BP revealed a massive strategy update, showing how the company plans to shrink its fossil fuel business and ramp-up spending on clean energy.

On that note, we took a look at how much companies like BP actually spend on clean energy. And in true Business Insider fashion, we ranked them.

Equinor solar
Norway’s Equinor is among the major oil companies investing in renewable energy. Here, the firm’s Apodi Solar plant. Equinor

Ranked: How much oil giants like BP and Shell spend on clean energy deals

Surprise: It’s not a lot, at least relative to what they spend on oil and gas.

  • Since 2016, six of the seven oil majors have spent just over $US9 billion combined, according to the research firm Wood Mackenzie.
  • For reference: Shell’s 2019 capex was a cool $US23 billion.

The winner: French multinational Total. In fact, more than half of the total spend among the majors comes from Total’s investment.

What’s ahead: We’re at a tipping point for clean-energy spending among majors – as in, it’s about to surge.

5 takeaways from BP’s massive strategy update

  1. BP is among a handful of oil majors that have pledged to be net-zero emissions companies by 2050. It’s the first to offer loads of details about how it will get there, including near-term targets.
  2. The London-based company said it would shrink oil-and-gas production by 40% over the next decade. The significance of this cannot be overstated, considering BP is a company built on oil.
  3. In that same time period, BP will decuple its spending on low-carbon energy. “Decuple,” as I just learned, means to multiply by ten.
  4. Expect BP gas stations of the future to have outlets for electric cars and perhaps hydrogen fuel. BP is investing big in retail. Oh, and the company pointed out that it sells a boatload of coffee every year.
  5. What does this all mean for carbon emissions? The company said it would cut upstream emissions by as much as 40%.You can see the other goals here.

We went through BP’s investor presentation. Here are the six key slides that map out the company’s new strategy.

Also: The company said bioenergy including biofuel will be part of its strategy. We did a deep-dive on Big Oil’s bet on algae biofuels earlier this summer – it’s one of my favourite stories, and you can read it here.

Exxon refinery

Exxon suspends employee benefits, warns of more job cuts

Benefit cuts: Earlier this week we learned that oil giant Exxon suspended a handful of employee benefit programs to cut costs.

  • Those include: The company’s retirement savings account matching, educational refund program, financial employee rewards, and various benefits tied to international travel. You can see more details here.
  • “The suspension is part of the company’s effort to reduce costs in response to the impact of the pandemic,” an Exxon rep said. “ExxonMobil’s total remuneration remains competitive despite the suspension.”

Job cuts: The company also warned of job cuts last Friday that would take effect in 2021, in the days after we reported that Exxon is shrinking its workforce through its annual performance review cycle.

  • “The company is undertaking a comprehensive look at additional cost reductions, based on long-term structural efficiencies, reduced activity, and an evaluation of workforce requirements,” Exxon said in a statement to Business Insider.
  • “We do see the potential for further reductions, including in overhead and management positions,” the company said.
  • Read the full story here.

The context: Oil prices have been inching up since May, but they’re still down more than 30% since the start of the year, forcing companies to cut costs.

How much can you earn at top oil companies?

Oil and gas is obviously a volatile industry that can change on a dime (as evidenced by the number of times I’ve written “almost overnight, the price of oil …”). But the industry comes with major benefits, earnings potential chief among them.

  • In fact: Petroleum engineers earn more than any other job that requires only a 4-year degree.
  • Several other positions earn six figures. Some earn more than $US300,000.

See how much you can earn at the top oil companies in the nation including Chevron, Shell, and BP.

Source: The salary data we used come from the US Office of Foreign Labour Certification (OFLC).

  • American companies file paperwork with OFLC for H1-B visas on behalf of current or prospective foreign workers, in which they have to disclose how much compensation those workers are being offered.

Read more:

Petroleum engineers can earn six figures straight out of college – more than any other major. We asked 4 professors whether the degree will still pay off now that oil markets have collapsed.

4 big stories we didn’t cover

  • Marathon Petroleum is selling its gas station chain, known as Speedway, to retail giant 7-11 for $US21 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • EV charging startup ChargePoint raised $US127 million to expand its charging network in North America and Europe.
  • Residential solar company SunPower surpassed its revenue guidance in Q2, aided by “heightened demand for residential electricity and a rapid shift to online sales,” Greentech Media reports.
  • Utility giant Dominion Energy is getting a new CEO,S&P Global reports.

That’s it! Have a great weekend.

– Benji

Ps. Here’s that pumpkin. It was green when I picked it, and now it’s turning orange. The takeaway: Pumpkins ripen.

Benji jones pumpkin