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The Sunday Times: Why oil giants still say it’s got to be gas

The Sunday Times
EXTRACTS

Investors turn fossil fuels into dinosaurs

Bank of England governor Mark Carney sent shock waves through the City four years ago by warning that investors in fossil fuel companies faced “potentially huge” losses from vast reserves that could become “literally unburnable”.

Oil giants’ multibillion-pound bet — that gas will power the global economy into a low-carbon future — now looks risky.
Royal Dutch Shell bet its future on gas in 2015 with its £47bn takeover of troubled rival BG, the rump of privatised British Gas. Shell lifer Ben van Beurden’s deal turned the Anglo-Dutch giant into the world’s biggest liquefied natural gas (LNG) company.
Fear among investors is evident in the oil giants’ share prices.
BP and Shell are both trading on dividend yields of more than 6%, versus about 3% at the turn of the century, showing that the market has doubts over their long-term valuations and ability to maintain shareholder payouts. Shell’s promise of huge buybacks and dividends has not been enough to reignite its share price.
Some institutions are turning their backs indiscriminately on the big oil companies, despite the diverging strategies between Europe’s majors and those in America, where climate change appears to sit far lower down the agenda.
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