ExxonMobil, the energy giant behind Mobil UK stockists, has set itself new targets for reducing emissions from its upstream operations.
Compared with 2016 levels, the company says it will reduce its methane emissions by 15% by 2020. Methane is the main constituent of natural gas, but it is also
a potent greenhouse gas, more so than carbon dioxide.
The company also says it wants to reduce the flaring of unwanted natural gas by a quarter over the same period. Flaring takes place because some natural gas often comes to the surface with oil, but in the absence of any practical use, it needs to be burned off. While this is preferable to simply allowing it to escape into the atmosphere, it still contributes to global warming through the production of carbon dioxide.
ExxonMobil says it will seek to reduce flaring by finding more practical uses for the wasted gas, such as using it in its own operations or selling it to other companies.
The methane emissions reduction, meanwhile, will be achieved by applying new practices and technology to detect and repair leaks in pipelines and other infrastructure. The company has already made a start on this and reduced its emissions by 2%.
In 2017, ExxonMobil, along with seven other large oil majors including Shell and BP, signed up to a collection of guiding principles for reducing its methane emissions. Sara Ortwein of ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO said the company’s goal was to fulfil the demand for hydrocarbons while “doing it in an environmentally responsible manner”.