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Visualized: How the Oil and Gas Industry Spends Its Profits



Visualized: How the Oil and Gas Industry Spends Its Profits

How the Oil and Gas Industry Spends Its Profits

2022 was a highly profitable year for the oil and gas industry. Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy prices skyrocketed, and the industry amassed an astounding $4 trillion in profits.

So, how were these 2022 profits spent? And how does this spending compare to previous years?

To find out, we’ve visualized the distribution of cash spending by the global oil and gas industry between 2015 and 2022, according to the International Energy Agency’s 2023 World Energy Investment report.

Distribution of Cash Spending: 2015-2022

Unlike previous years, a majority of the oil and gas industry’s 2022 profits were channeled towards enhancing shareholder dividends and reducing debt burdens.

This means that capital expenditure for oil and gas production dropped below 50% of total spending for the first time in more than 15 years.

Distribution of Spending20152016201720182019202020212022
Oil and gas capital
Clean energy
capital expenditure
Dividends* 13%7%18%28%29%27%26%39%
Net debt repayment0%0%0%0%0%0%13%13%

*Dividends include share buybacks, exclude share issuances.

Shareholder pressures for greater returns, as well as long-term demand and cost concerns, were primary reasons for the reshaping of this spending.

Conversely, even with the continued demands for the sector to contribute more to addressing climate change, cash flow allocated to clean energy remained around 1% of spending.

Subnational Spending Trends

The International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that expenditure on new fossil fuel supply will experience a 6% increase in 2023, reaching a total of $950 billion.

While this refers to global numbers, noteworthy disparities do exist based on geographical location and different types of oil and gas companies, including:

  • Most of the growth in new supply expenditure is expected to come from Middle Eastern national oil companies. Based on their announced spending, they are the only subset in the industry that is planning to spend significantly more in 2023 than in 2022.
  • Real spending on oil and gas supply continues to fall short of 2019 levels for a majority of North American and European companies.
  • While only making up 1% of total spending in 2022, investment in carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), hydrogen, and bioenergy are growing in the industry. Most of these projects are led by major private players, along with national oil companies from Europe and North America.

What About the Energy Transition?

While there are shifts in the oil and gas industry’s spending, it’s important to note that current capital expenditures in fossil fuels are more than double what is required to achieve the IEA’s 2050 Net Zero Emissions Scenario.

Therefore, more meaningful and substantial shifts in spending are necessary to bring down the emissions of the sector.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s top producer of crude oil.



Line chart showing how the U.S. has surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top producer of crude oil.

Visualizing the Rise of the U.S. as Top Crude Oil Producer

Over the last decade, the United States has established itself as the world’s top producer of crude oil, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This infographic illustrates the rise of the U.S. as the biggest oil producer, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

U.S. Takes Lead in 2018

Over the last three decades, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Russia have alternated as the top crude producers, but always by small margins.

During the 1990s, Saudi Arabia dominated crude production, taking advantage of its extensive oil reserves. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 42% of the country’s GDP, 87% of its budget revenues, and 90% of export earnings.

However, during the 2000s, Russia surpassed Saudi Arabia in production during some years, following strategic investments in expanding its oil infrastructure. The majority of Russia’s oil goes to OECD Europe (60%), with around 20% going to China.

Crude Oil Production United StatesSaudi ArabiaRussia

Over the 2010s, the U.S. witnessed an increase in domestic production, much of it attributable to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in the shale formations ranging from Texas to North Dakota. It became the world’s largest oil producer in 2018, outproducing Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. accounted for 14.7% of crude oil production worldwide in 2022, compared to 13.1% for Saudi Arabia and 12.7% for Russia.

Despite leading petroleum production, the U.S. still trails seven countries in remaining proven reserves underground, with 55,251 million barrels.

Venezuela has the biggest reserves with 303,221 million barrels. Saudi Arabia, with 267,192 million barrels, occupies the second spot, while Russia is seventh with 80,000 million barrels.

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Energy Shift

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Despite concerns about nuclear waste, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of all radioactive waste ever generated.



Graphic cubes illustrating the global volume of nuclear waste and its disposal methods.

Visualizing All the Nuclear Waste in the World

Originally posted on the Decarbonization Channel. Subscribe to the free mailing list to be the first to receive decarbonization-related visualizations, with a focus on the U.S. power sector.

Nuclear power is among the safest and cleanest sources of electricity, making it a critical part of the clean energy transition.

However, nuclear waste, an inevitable byproduct, is often misunderstood.

In collaboration with the National Public Utilities Council, this graphic shows the volume of all existing nuclear waste, categorized by its level of hazardousness and disposal requirements, based on data from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Storage and Disposal

Nuclear provides about 10% of global electricity generation.

Nuclear waste, produced as a result of this, can be divided into four different types:

  • Very low-level waste: Waste suitable for near-surface landfills, requiring lower containment and isolation.
  • Low-level waste: Waste needing robust containment for up to a few hundred years, suitable for disposal in engineered near-surface facilities.
  • Intermediate-level waste: Waste that requires a greater degree of containment and isolation than that provided by near-surface disposal.
  • High-level waste: Waste is disposed of in deep, stable geological formations, typically several hundred meters below the surface.

Despite safety concerns, high-level radioactive waste constitutes less than 0.25% of total radioactive waste reported to the IAEA.

Waste ClassDisposed (cubic meters)Stored (cubic meters)Total (cubic meters)
Very low-level waste758,802313,8821,072,684
Low-level waste1,825,558204,8582,030,416
Intermediate level waste671,097201,893872,990
High-level waste3,9605,3239,283

Stored and disposed radioactive waste reported to the IAEA under the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Data is from the last reporting year which varies by reporting country, 2019-2023.

The amount of waste produced by the nuclear power industry is small compared to other industrial activities.

While flammable liquids comprise 82% of the hazardous materials shipped annually in the U.S., radioactive waste accounts for only 0.01%.

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