With Bonuses Linked to New Projects, Oil Executives Push for Exploration in Difficult Locations

Thursday, May 28, 2015
Shell platform in the Gulf of Mexico (photo: Shell)

Executives running the world’s five largest oil companies have been rewarded with multi-million-dollar bonuses to authorize new projects in remote areas, despite their potential impact on global warming.


The Guardian says Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, Total and BP are committed to spending a trillion dollars over nearly a decade on oil and gas exploration, in part because their corporate leaders have been incentivized to push the envelope on finding and developing new reserves.


“The unprecedented push to bring untapped reserves into production, and to exploit new and undiscovered fields, involves some of the most complex feats of engineering ever attempted,” Simon Bowers and Harry Davies wrote at The Guardian.


They added that the oil giants “are pressing ahead with investments despite the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimating that two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves will need to remain in the ground to prevent the earth from warming (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels – a proposed temperature limit beyond which scientists warn of spiraling and irreversible climate change.”


The risky projects include Exxon’s joint venture with Russia to drill in the frozen Kara Sea. CEO Rex Tillerson was paid $33.1 million last year, including bonus payouts for this and other efforts.


Over at Shell top man Ben van Beurden received $32.2 million in salary and bonuses linked to delivering “a high proportion of flagship projects on time and on budget,” including oil platforms floating 1,000 meters or more above deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Guinea and South China Sea.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Oil Company Bosses’ Bonuses Linked To $1tn Spending On Extracting Fossil Fuels (by Simon Bowers and Harry Davies, The Guardian)


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