Italy's ENI aims to zero carbon footprint upstream by 2030

Italian energy firm ENI is aiming to make its upstream business carbon neutral by 2030 as part of a transformation to meet its Paris Agreement targets, CEO Claudio Descalzi said Friday during the presentation of a new business plan.

The goal will be achieved by reducing carbon emissions through increased efficiency while offsetting remaining emissions through forestry projects. But Descalzi said "buying carbon credit is no longer enough."

The company is also working on a series of green initiatives, including using organic waste to produce biofuels that can be used for now in boats, one day in cars; and harnessing the power of waves to provide energy to power off-shore structures, and eventually feed the grid.

Descalzi said that the presentation of the company's goal on the day many students around the world were protesting against climate change was a "welcome coincidence."

"ENI needs to transform," Descalzi said. "It needs to transform because it needs to exist in 10, 20, 30 years.

He said that while his green energy proposals were met with some skepticism when he took over five years ago, they are now proving their value, with low double-digit returns on investments.

Still, ENI's bottom line remains reliant on oil and gas production. The company said it will increase oil and gas production by 3.5 percent a year over its new 2019-2022 business plan, in line with the prior four years.

The production growth will be supported by ramp-ups of existing projects and startups that target 2.5 million barrels of new resources from 140 new wells. Investment in exploration is forecast to reach 3.5 billion euros ($4 billion).

By 2022, 18 new startups will contribute 660,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day and the expansion of existing fields will reach 290,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. More than a third of the new production will come from the Middle East, Norway and Mexico.

Of the 8 billion euros that ENI will invest this year, about 2.3 billion euros will be invested in Italy, which covers also green energy investments.