Spanish Oil Giant Now Spends More on Renewable Energy Than Oil Drilling
Flames burn from gas venting pipes on the Casablanca oil platform, operated by Repsol SA, in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tarragona, Spain (Photographer: Angel Navarrete/Bloomberg)

Spanish Oil Giant Now Spends More on Renewable Energy Than Oil Drilling

Repsol SA has invested more in recent months in developing renewable power projects than searching for oil and gas, offering the latest example of how Europe’s energy giants are accelerating their shift away from fossil fuels.

The Spanish firm has spent 199 million euros ($232 million) this year on oil exploration, in countries ranging from the U.S. and Russia to Indonesia, compared with about 300 million euros developing new clean energy projects. The growth of the renewables division may also make it feasible to bring in an external partner or hold an initial public offering of the unit in the future, Chief Executive Officer Josu Jon Imaz told analysts on Thursday.

Repsol surprised the industry in December when it wrote down the value of its assets by 4.8 billion euros to adjust for lower crude prices in the future and said it would target net-zero emissions of greenhouses gases by 2050, the first major oil company to do so. Since then, larger rivals including Total SE, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc, have unveiled their own plans to focus on clean energy.

About 30% of Repsol’s capital expenditure in 2020 will be on low-emissions projects, and about 25% in the next few years, Imaz told Spain’s parliament in September. The company is set to present a new strategic plan in late November.

This is the second major corporate shift by Repsol in just over 20 years. The Spanish refiner and gas station operator only become a oil producer after acquiring YPF SA in 1998. Its upstream division was for years populated by Argentine executives who worked for YPF, and even its power division is run by a former YPF employee.

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