London — European oil companies have started to address what they worry may one day be an existential threat to their business — the end of a century of oil demand growth in a low-carbon world. The emergence of electric vehicles (EV) and demand among investors and consumers for cleaner energy to limit climate change has pushed the European side of Big Oil to take baby steps towards refocusing their businesses from oil production and refining to electricity via natural gas and renewables. Their funding for oil exploration dwarfs any alternatives, but they are buying up power generation and retail utilities to integrate them with their long-standing natural gas and emerging renewables ventures. Relatively small investments in electricity aim to help them ride the energy transition by offering households and businesses cleaner power than coal can provide and giving their petrol stations a green edge with EV-charging. Testing an electrification route also helps meet demands from shareho...

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