BP considers scrapping its annual energy review because report’s numbers undermine company’s rhetoric about its pursuit of alternative energy
By Robert Bryce, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 7, 2022
Reuters recently reported that energy giant BP is “considering ending the publication of its Statistical Review of World Energy, over 70 years after it first published the benchmark report.” The reason? The report’s numbers are supposedly undermining the company’s rhetoric about its pursuit of alternative energy. To give in to such claims and cancel the Statistical Review— one of the most reliable energy resources in the world— would be an egregious mistake.
The review is a benchmark report. No other entity, corporate or public, publishes such a wide variety of data. Because the Statistical Review is published in spreadsheet form, its data can be easily used to detect and illustrate trends in everything from coal use in Vietnam (it’s soaring) to the electricity generated annually by America’s nuclear reactors (it’s falling).
I look at the review almost daily, as do many people in the media, energy and government sectors. That BP would even consider halting publication—the cost of which amounts to decimal dust amid the company’s 2021 revenue of $164 billion—shows how a huge company can be cowed by fashion and fleeting political considerations.
The Reuters report says that the review “has been seen by some BP executives as detrimental to the company’s new direction.” It adds that BP has in recent years “sought to raise its profile as a clean energy provider.” The article then quotes a company source saying: “Put simply, it is bad PR.”
The only way the report could be “bad PR” or “detrimental” to the company’s “new direction” is if its data show exactly how much—or, more accurately, how little— progress is being made on the much-hyped “energy transition.” In a recent article, I used Statistical Review numbers to show that in 2021 the global use of coal, oil and natural gas combined grew nearly five times as fast as wind and solar energy. In the U.S., domestic oil use grew four times as fast as wind and solar combined in 2021.
Now more than ever, global policy makers need consistent and trustworthy numbers they can use to guide their decisions on energy and climate policy. BP should stick to its guns and show some corporate responsibility. Whatever the status of the energy transition, the world needs accurate energy and power data.
Robert Bryce is host of the “Power Hungry Podcast,” executive producer of the documentary “Juice: How Electricity Explains the World,” and author of “A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations.”