Crude to Clean: Big Oil’s Shift Towards a Sustainable Energy Landscape

big oil shift clean energy lithium net zero


In an era marked by climate change awareness and the global push towards sustainable energy, an unexpected player has entered the green arena – Big Oil. Traditionally synonymous with fossil fuels, major oil companies are making significant strides in the realm of clean energy solutions. Now heading into 2024, more than ever, the energy landscape has been evolving, with increased emphasis on renewable and sustainable energy sources. As this The Motley Fool article puts it: “The sector can see the writing on the proverbial wall. Oil companies don’t want to go extinct as the global economy transitions away from fossil fuels to lower-carbon alternatives.”

Historically, the core business of oil and gas companies revolved around the extraction and production of fossil fuels. However, recent years have witnessed a paradigm shift in their strategies. Companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, and BP are diversifying their portfolios to include clean energy solutions, acknowledging the imperative to address climate change and reduce their carbon footprint.

Recent news

As Bloomberg recently noted, “The biggest fossil-fuel producers are jumping on the energy-transition bandwagon and looking to start extracting lithium, a mineral used primarily in technologies meant to usher in the end of the fossil-fuels era.”

One example is BP.  BP’s website boosts, “We’re primarily in oil & gas today. That’s changing as we work toward net zero by 2050. Transition growth engines [include]: bioenergy, convenience, EV charging, renewables and hydrogen.” Today, BP is also a leading electric vehicle (EV) charging provider in many countries and aims to increase their worldwide charging points from more than 13,000 today to 100,000 by 2030. BP supports vehicle electrification and wants to see governments enact a mixture of actions and policies to make it a reality.

A piece of huge news this month alone was that ExxonMobil recently announced that they will be drilling their first Lithium well in Arkansas as they aim to be a leading supplier for EVs by 2030. “Lithium is essential to the energy transition, and ExxonMobil has a leading role to play in paving the way for electrification,” said Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. “This landmark project applies decades of ExxonMobil expertise to unlock vast supplies of North American lithium with far fewer environmental impacts than traditional mining operations.”

Conclusion: Looking ahead

The transformation of Big Oil into a major player in the clean energy sector is a promising development for a sustainable future. While challenges persist, the commitment of these industry giants to invest in and promote clean energy solutions signals a crucial step towards a more environmentally conscious and responsible energy landscape. As these companies continue to navigate the complex terrain of the energy transition, the world watches with anticipation, hopeful for a future where clean energy takes center stage.

Did you know?:

When it comes to clean energy solutions involving Lithium, many people do not know that it is actually found not only in saltwater deposits but also in oil brine that exist naturally or as byproducts in oil fields. For decades, drillers have just disposed of that brine, pumping it back into the ground and not utilizing the lithium.

With the recent rise of electric vehicles and a US-led push to secure domestic supplies of battery metals, what was once considered waste is looking much more valuable to oil companies. The good news is that oil brine requires a different set of tools for extraction of the Lithium— specifically, a process called direct lithium extraction, or DLE, like the LiTAS™ technologies that EnergyX has developed.