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The role of the oil and gas industry in tackling energy poverty

Oil and Gas companies are uniquely positioned to help tackle energy poverty, says new report from Accenture.


Energy poverty is an enormous challenge—but its resolution brings global rewards. A shocking 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, and an additional 2.6 billion lack clean cooking facilities. The majority of this population—95 percent—are located in Sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia, regions that are also home to nearly 20 percent of global oil and gas reserves.

It’s a huge, complex challenge. This paper sets out why the oil and gas industry is in a unique position to take a leadership role in tackling energy poverty. As well as being the right thing to do, this is critical to redefining the industry’s license to operate—securing its own future, as well as that of the communities it serves. Read more from Jean-Marc Ollagnier, Group Chief Executive of Accenture’s Resources operating group and Advisory Board member for the UN Sustainability for All initiative.


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With a long history of operating in developing countries and a business need to continue accessing reserves, oil and gas companies have an opportunity to incorporate energy poverty alleviation in their negotiations with governments. Improving access to energy provides the holistic service to host communities for which governments are looking and supports broader economic and social development. This in turn secures the industry’s sustainable access to reserves and social license to operate, increasing revenue potential from existing and new revenue streams, facilitating risk management and supporting increased brand enhancement – increasing shareholder value in both the short and long terms.

In addition, oil and gas companies have the ability to make a difference. With decades of experience operating in these countries, oil and gas companies have enviable convening power, bolstered by access to senior government officials, enabling them to align stakeholder interests and render these collaborative solutions viable. They also have the technical and commercial expertise, and access to capital required to work with communities to define and support their needs, supporting long-term and sustainable impact. Within this context, oil and gas operators are well positioned to lead the way, working across stakeholder groups to drive a step-change in achieving universal access to energy by 2030. Only such an integrated, multi-stakeholder approach – supported by strong leadership – will truly be able to secure an end to energy poverty.


Given the oil and gas industry’s vested interest and the breadth of its capabilities, the industry is uniquely positioned to take a leading role in tackling energy poverty. This role is two dimensional with efforts required at the local and global level. At the global level the industry should advance the agenda and share knowledge. At the local level the industry needs to:

  1. Strategically invest in an integrated manner

  2. More systematically leverage capabilities to support access to energy

  3. Establish and lead ecosystem development

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