Pioneer Natural Resources is a publicly listed upstream oil and gas company headquartered in the USA. In 2020, the company had USD 6.69 billion in revenue and a reported 2,323 employees in 2019*. Pioneer undertakes hydrocarbon exploration and production and is one of the largest shale players in the USA due to its assets in the Permian Basin.
Pioneer aims for a 25% reduction in its scope 1 and 2 emissions intensity by 2030 compared to 2019. However, to align with its 1.5°C pathway, Pioneer needs to more than double its targeted emissions reductions. Pioneer should endeavour to set long-term targets, up to 2050, that are aligned with its 1.5°C pathway for both its scope 1 and 2 and its scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions. It should also set regularly spaced intermediate targets to incentivize near-term action on its longer-term goals.
For an upstream oil and gas company like Pioneer, scope 1 and 2 emissions are the main source of emissions. Pioneer’s scope 1 and 2 emissions intensity has decreased only marginally between 2014 and 2019 and is not projected to follow the trend required by the company’s 1.5°C pathway. The company has also already exceeded its carbon budget until 2050 by close to 150%, which means that the company has no room for even its current assets under its cumulative carbon budget. Far from continuing exploring and development of additional oil and gas projects, the company needs to plan a managed decline in production from its current assets.
Despite board-level oversight of climate change issues and the strong expertise of one of the board members in environmental regulation, Pioneer’s executives are still incentivized to increase fossil fuel production volumes. This is indicated by the growth metrics for direct incentives reported by the company in 2019. The company’s low-carbon transition plan contains methane and scope 1 and 2 emissions reduction targets for 2030. However, the plan does not include longer-term targets for 2050, nor does it discuss the future of the company’s current assets or potential low-carbon business activities. Instead, Pioneer is still focused on meeting the global demand for oil in the long term.
Despite supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the World Bank Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 Initiative, Pioneer does not have a policy in place to manage engagement with trade associations on climate change issues. The company has reported providing funds to the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) and the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners. These associations are considered to have a negative position towards climate policy, notably for their resistance to methane regulations. Pioneer can show leadership in this area by disengaging with trade associations known for their negative stance on climate policy or by actively using its position in these associations to drive support for climate policy.
Pioneer receives a trend score of -. If the company were reassessed in the near future, its score would likely decrease. The share of gas in Pioneer’s fuel mix has decreased, resulting in a marginal decrease in its scope 1 and 2 emissions intensity between 2014 and 2019. Even if this trend were to continue, Pioneer would still not be aligned with its 1.5°C pathway, which requires a much steeper decrease in emissions intensity of close to 10% annually until 2024. Pioneer has not identified any low-carbon business activities, and its CapEx plans do not indicate financial commitment to improving its low-carbon performance.
Pioneer aims to achieve a 25% reduction in its scope 1 and 2 emissions intensity by 2030 compared to 2019. The company also aims at a 40% reduction in its methane emissions intensity compared to 2019 and has committed to reach a zero routine flaring target by 2030.
Pioneer plans to achieve its emissions reduction targets by upgrading its oil and gas production facilities, prioritizing vapour recovery in its operations, detecting leaks using advanced emissions monitoring technologies and plugging uneconomic production wells.
There is no evidence that Pioneer is investing in low-carbon and mitigation technologies. The company reports capitalizing on the high-potential resources of the Permian Basin, where it operates, by allocating more than 95% of its current capital expenditure (CapEx) to oil and gas activities.
Pioneer is estimated to have reduced its scope 1 and 2 emissions intensity between 2014 and 2019 due to an increasing share of oil in its fuel mix, which is less emissions-intensive for extraction operations. Oil is the focus of Pioneer’s activities in the USA, rather than gas.
Despite a marginal decrease in its scope 1 and 2 emissions intensity, Pioneer has significantly increased its oil and gas production volumes since 2014, and it has not implemented a scope 3 emissions reduction target. The company is not developing any low-carbon business activities and is not committed to a low-carbon transition.