Skip to content
David Fickling

It’s Not ESG Driving Big Oil Away From Its Biggest Reserves

Margins are tight and the quality is low. That makes tar sands a high-stakes bet in the best of times.

The Athabasca oil sands.

The Athabasca oil sands.

Source: Bloomberg


At a time when crude prices are close to their highest levels in 14 years, Big Oil is turning its back on some of its biggest reserves. 

BP Plc this week announced it would sell out of the Sunrise project, a Canadian tar sands joint venture that produces about 50,000 barrels a day. That can be chalked up as a victory for environmental campaigners who’ve sought to drive oil majors away from such projects. Equinor ASA sold out of a similar Canadian project last year, while Shell Plc and ConocoPhillips sold assets several years ago. Chevron Corp. and TotalEnergies SE also have projects that may be on the block.