Tisha’s Insights

Oil and Gas Will Speed Us to the Low-Carbon Future

April 06, 2023 Tisha Schuller & Anna Kieffer

Although oil and gas voices are often discouraged from climate planning tables, the burden is on us—as oil and gas leaders—to join those conversations. I’d like to recommend an unexpectedly fascinating read from the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an advisory board to the U.S. secretary of energy. The report’s name (Principles, and Oil & Gas Industry Initiatives and Technologies for Progressing to Net Zero) doesn’t exactly scream “beach read!” but astute Both True readers will recognize this as the second time I’ve recommended it here.

Why am I so bullish on this report? Because it’s both orienting—to what oil-and-gas-adjacent tech is and can accomplish—and inspiring. There is so much our industry is doing and can do to accelerate decarbonization. You should read the report in its entirety (hat tip to Clay Bretches of Apache, who got me to do so), but in the meantime you’ll find below what you need to know until you can get this bad boy to a beach.

Both of these things are true:

  • Many climate hawks advocate for excluding oil and gas voices and solutions from low-carbon discussions—a viewpoint that has substantial mainstream traction.
  • The urgency and scale of change demanded by these same advocates is best met with the skill sets and expertise of the oil and gas industry.

The situation

One of the ways we are going to change the public’s willingness to see oil and gas leaders as central to decarbonization aspiration and action is through those day-to-day conversations each of us has with our communities, families, and friends about the energy future. What I like best about the NPC report is that it’s an excellent primer on oil and gas decarbonization solutions. Getting this information into your employees’ hands—your employees, who are your company’s front line with the community—will make every summer barbecue conversation they have about the energy future with their friends and neighbors much more engaging. The report lays out not only policy recommendations but also the challenges and opportunities in the work ahead, along with the factors contributing to them:

  • Energy transitions are to be expected—but not taken for granted. Energy transitions are nothing new to human history; we have transitioned to more efficient fuel sources repeatedly. Yet today’s clean energy transition is unprecedented in several ways. Never before has a transition taken place so rapidly and across all energy forms. Prior transitions have added energy source types, not attempted to replace them. In its speed and scale, this transition poses complex challenges of energy security, geopolitical influence, reliability, technical readiness, and cost.
  • The technologies necessary for net zero are not yet available at cost and scale. Nearly half of the technologies that have been identified as able to reduce global emissions by 2050 (according to the International Energy Agency) are not yet commercially available (NPC report, p. 7). Furthermore, many of the promising technological solutions will come out of oil and gas experience and expertise. The industry can deliver important contributions in many arenas, including energy efficiency, methane abatement, carbon capture and sequestration, direct air capture, hydrogen, renewable fuels, and geothermal energy.
  • Policy and partnerships will accelerate the pathway to scale. Smart policy matters if oil and gas companies are to maximize their contributions to accelerating decarbonization. From thoughtful regulation of today’s operations to policy support to accelerate deployment of emerging solutions, collaborations across companies, sectors, and stakeholders can make a huge difference.

Near and dear to my heart are the important reasons why the oil and gas industry is best suited to play a leadership role in energy transition efforts. The NPC report details the opportunities (grouped by technology) for oil and gas companies to lead. Entertain your climate-hawkish friends with these tidbits at the next baseball game:

  • Oil and gas skill sets are relevant net-zero skill sets. The oil and gas industry has both a highly skilled workforce and expertise in executing large, complex projects. Our industry has subsurface know-how applicable to geothermal, and we have experience moving liquids and gases around the world relevant to hydrogen and other zero- and low-carbon gases.
  • Collaborations with the oil and gas industry will accelerate progress for new entrants. Oil and gas companies are co-investing with venture capital in energy startups, building bench- and field-scale deployments alongside innovators, collaborating with Department of Energy national labs on technology development, and partnering with academia to advance research across industries.
  • Today’s profitable oil and gas companies can be tomorrow’s net-zero companies. By providing abundant, affordable energy today, today’s oil and gas companies are able to mitigate crises ranging from geopolitical instability to rolling blackouts. Policymakers and stakeholders are well served by a measured, planned transition that allows today’s companies to deliver on the dual priorities of meeting today’s energy needs and investing in the solutions required to get to those 2050 reduction targets.

Seize the day

The burden is on oil and gas leaders to provide actionable strategies for leading into the energy future. The burden is, further, on each of us to be able to talk credibly about how oil and companies can and will accelerate decarbonization in an ambitious, yet orderly, transition. How do you do that? I’m glad you asked:

  • Be an irresistible conversation partner. Your climate-hawk friends and family members want good news—and you can provide it! Get up to speed on the salient points of climate, energy transition, and decarbonization so you can convey the many ways our industry does, can, and will contribute to progress. You don’t have to have all the answers, but you do have to convey an authentic pride in the work we do.
  • Join collaborations within and outside of industry. One way to up your exposure to energy decarbonization details is to participate in many of the efforts underway both within oil and gas and across industries. There are so many options! Here are a few we love here at Adamantine: Stanford University’s Natural Gas Initiative and Hydrogen Initiative, and GTI Energy’s Open Hydrogen Initiative and Net-Zero Infrastructure Partnership.
  • Create educational forums within your organization. Many companies have set up “Industry Ambassador,” “Emerging Leader,” and “Lunch and Learn” programs—both remote and in person—to keep their employees building knowledge and growing future-focused skill sets. Create original offerings or team up with your favorite trade association to keep your workforce growing.

Thank you to Anna Kieffer of Adamantine for her help in writing this piece. We’ve worked with numerous clients to build training, mentorship, and education programs. Want to learn more about how to prepare your workforce? Reach out to us.

Enjoy your beach read,



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Both of These Things Are True

By Tisha Schuller