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Transition Risks Looming Larger for Oil and Gas Investors

Investors in the oil and gas sector need to scrutinise transition plans carefully ahead of a turbulent period of shifting policies, according to new analyses. A research note from Fitch’s BMI unit predicted “significant future policy discontinuity” due to the “rising global climate ambitions” of governments, leading to lower consumption levels, thus “threatening operational and financial performances in the oil and gas sector”. If policies are not aligned with the Paris Agreement by 2032, discontinuity becomes increasingly likely, potentially including curbs on import or use of fossil fuels or moratoria on drilling and production. BMI warned that such lurches in policy can be highly “disruptive”, noting also that few firms currently have the strategies in place to help insulate them against the associated risks. Policy risks to the sector are likely to be most pronounced in Central and Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, it said. A separate report from climate-focused research and advisory firm FFI Solutions warned investors that markets would “increasingly” factor transition into the valuations of oil and gas companies, requiring the former to closely monitor the different approaches of firms in their portfolios. Characterising fossil fuel firms’ three main approaches as ‘business as usual’, ‘pivot to climate solutions’ and ‘return capital’, the firm said the latter, though currently popular, was “not sustainable in the long term”. “We believe that certain fossil fuel companies have the financial resources, engineering expertise and management skills that could allow them to effectively transition their businesses, or grow their clean businesses through acquisition,” it said.

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