Documents reveal Microsoft is working with the Egyptian Government to use COP27 to maximise fossil fuel exploitation – and the owners of the Daily Mail are helping them

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Despite hosting the United Nations COP27 climate summit, the Egyptian Government is simultaneously partnering with the world’s biggest fossil fuel polluters in a bid to accelerate massive increases in oil and gas investments in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, documents seen by Byline Times exclusively reveal.

And it’s doing so with the backing of renowned technology giant Microsoft, as well as the help of the conglomerate behind the British climate-denying Daily Mail newspaper.

Promotional documents prepared for the upcoming ‘EGYPS’ Egypt Petroleum Show to be held from 13 to 15 February 2023 – just two months after the UN climate summit – show that Egypt as well as its fossil fuel partners are using the summit as a mechanism to dramatically increase investments in oil and gas, rather than committing to clean energy.

Companies involved include the world’s biggest oil and gas polluters such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Total, which have also been implicated in funding climate science denial.

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The documents seen by Byline Times confirm that although acting as the ‘Strategic Technology Partner and Principal Sponsor’ of COP27, Microsoft is simultaneously sponsoring the EGYPS oil and gas conference.

EGYPS is an Egyptian “government-backed” global energy conference hosted by Egypt every year, well-known known in industry circles due to its lucrative opportunities for closed-door regional dealmaking.

The documents also show how the EGYPS summit is being managed and organised by ‘dmg events’, a wholly-owned subsidiary company of the Daily Mail and General Trust plc. (DMGT), whose chief executive and controlling shareholder is Lord Rothermere.

DMGT is, of course, the billion-pound media conglomerate which owns the Daily Mail, the UK tabloid rated one out of five by Microsoft’s own web browser feature designed to fight fake news. Lord Rothermere has been described by the Press Gazette as the most powerful man in UK news media.

An event brochure for the conference seen by Byline Times describes it as “Egypt, North Africa and the Mediterranean’s largest oil, gas and energy show held under the patronage of His Excellency Abdel Fattah El Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt”. The brochure continues:

“EGYPS 2023 takes place just after COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, providing the critical opportunity for the oil, gas and energy industry to discuss the outcomes and lay out the strategies of turning net-zero commitments into deliverable actions”.

It goes on to promise “direct access to the primary stakeholders involved in the region’s upcoming projects investing more than $1 billion in the oil and natural gas sector in the Western Desert region of Egypt”, along with the opportunity for oil and gas firms to “showcase products and services” while increasing their company profile.  

“Explore the outcomes of the COP27 meeting in Egypt as EGYPS lays the groundwork for critical discussions around the industry’s transition and ongoing recovery”, the brochure enthuses.


Shilling for Fossil Fuels

The entire premise of EGYPS, the documents around the conference reveal, is that increasing fossil fuel investment, production and consumption is entirely consistent with net zero commitments and a safe climate – contrary to continued warnings from climate scientists.

“EGYPS drives the conversations that address sustainable climate-conscious production of oil and gas and the growing commitment to energy transition and a net-zero future”, the event brochure claims.

But earlier this year, a landmark United Nations report summarising the conclusion of the global scientific community and approved by world governments – collated by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – concluded that existing and currently planned fossil fuel projects will guarantee dangerous global heating.

“As global energy system stakeholders prepare to face rising energy demand global oil and gas investments are set to increase by $26 billion this year, the landscape for next generation energy solutions is set to transform dramatically”, declared the EGYPS brochure:

“The convergence of new energy investments, growing focus on digitalisation and sustainability, and accelerating growth in hydrocarbon exploration and production has paved the way for new business opportunities for the offshore and maritime industry in the Gulf, North Africa and the Mediterranean”.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the EGYPS conference’s focus on achieving such accelerated fossil fuel growth is remotely ‘sustainable’.


Controlled by Big Oil

The promotional document further reveals that the Executive Committee for the conference, chaired by Egypt’s petroleum minister Tarek El Molla, includes representatives from the world’s biggest fossil fuel polluters.

Sitting on the EGYPS conference committee are Chevron’s Egypt country manager Kristian Svendson; ExxonMobil’s Egypt chairman Amr Abou Eita; BP’s North Africa regional president Karim Alaa; Total Energies’ country chair Thomas Strauss; Eni managing director Mattia Campanati; and Baker Hughes’ general manager for Egypt and Sudan, Tameer Nasser; among many other oil and gas representatives.

The brochure confirms that the event organiser is ‘dmg events’, an international exhibitions and publishing company headquartered in Dubai, UAE, controlled by the owner of the Daily Mail, Lord Rothermere.

A separate sponsorship document for the upcoming event seen by Byline Times reveals that it is being financed by a wide-range of national and international fossil fuel firms, including the UK-based Capricorn Energy and Energean.

Its diamond sponsors include BP and French multinational Total which means they provided $130,000 for the event; gold sponsors who provided $80,000 include US oil giant ExxonMobil and Malaysian firm Petronas; and among its bronze sponsors providing $40,000 are Texas-based Halliburton and Baker Hughes. Microsoft is also a bronze sponsor of EGYPS.

Some 636 fossil fuel lobbyists have turned up to the Egypt-hosted climate conference, a rise of 25% from the previous year’s COP26. Byline Times had revealed how the British-hosted summit was influenced by the UK’s longstanding partnership with ExxonMobil and other oil and gas majors.

How ExxonMobil Captured COP26

Nafeez Ahmed

Microsoft’s involvement in supporting the Egypt Petroleum Show while simultaneously sponsoring COP27 comes as little surprise given the tech giant’s track record of working with oil and gas giants. While touting its commitment to net zero, Microsoft has continued to help fossil fuel firms escalate their oil and gas production by applying digital innovations like cloud computing and AI. Microsoft declined to comment.

A spokesperson for ExxonMobil told Byline Times: “We can do both – increase production and reduce emissions… ExxonMobil aims to achieve net-zero emissions from its operated assets by 2050 and is taking an approach centred on developing detailed emission-reduction roadmaps for major operated assets… Over the next six years, we plan to invest more than $15 billion on initiatives to lower greenhouse gas emissions. A significant share is focused on scaling up carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and biofuels.”

Unfortunately, there remains scant evidence that carbon capture and storage (CCUS) is commercially viable. New research suggests that a speculative best-case scenario sees CCUS becoming feasible only around 2050 – which is far too late to avert catastrophic climate change. Hydrogen produced via fossil fuel energy generates even more carbon emissions than diesel oil, gas and coal. Biofuels, similarly, actually increase emissions rather than reduce them.

ExxonMobil reported a record $20 billion net profits in its third quarter alone.

The Egyptian Government, ‘dmg events’ and DMGT Plc were contacted for comment.

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