How Institutional Investors Are Thinking about the Energy Transition

·2 min read

Wall Street is increasingly bullish about the price of crude—but also increasingly convinced that oil demand will peak by 2030. Natural gas will play a big role in the energy transition, but carbon capture and storage does not look like a profitable investment opportunity. And while the Street hasn’t fully figured out how to factor companies’ emissions into equity valuations, that moment is coming, and it won’t be pretty for the polluters.

Those are among the findings in a new survey of institutional oil and gas investors from the Center for Global Energy Impact at consultancy BCG, which shows that the energy transition remains front of mind in capital markets.

Almost 70% of the respondents reckon Brent, the international oil benchmark, will price above $60/bbl in the next few years. That’s well above the long-term historical average. And yet this bullish stance on prices sits alongside a rather dim view of consumption, with 60% expecting that “climate change concerns and the energy transition will cause peak oil demand by 2030.”

There are other intriguing discrepancies. A large majority of institutional investors feel pressured to invest in green funds and stocks, screen for ESG metrics, and decrease their portfolios’ exposure to fossil fuels. Almost 60% feel under pressure to ditch their fossil fuel investments.

And yet just 12% of respondents are fully modeling climate risk into valuations. But attitudes are shifting: almost 70% said they were trying to work out how to factor climate risk into the equation.

“Once investors really figure this out, and you get a higher number saying we think we have modeled this, and it has an impact, that’s significant for the oil and gas sector,” said Rebecca Fitz, a senior director at the Center.

“The extent to which emissions are factored into valuations—that is a potential headwind for [stock] performance. And I think it speaks to the need for transparency on this on this topic,” Fitz added.

This article is an excerpt of Energy Source, a twice-weekly energy newsletter from the Financial Times.

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