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article imageExxonMobil to reduce methane emissions 15 percent by 2020

By Karen Graham     May 25, 2018 in Business
ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, on Wednesday announced plans to achieve a 15 percent reduction in methane emissions from its operations by 2020,
Additionally, the company also outlined plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing flaring by 25 percent. The announcement is tied to Exxon's pledge to decrease methane gas emissions from its shale oil and gas operations in the United States by making use of new technologies.
In the news release, ExxonMobil chairman and CEO Darren Woods said: “We have a longstanding commitment to improve efficiency and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s announcement builds on that commitment and will help further drive improvements in our business.”
Along with the company's subsidiary, XTO Energy’s leak-detection-and-repair effort, as well as operational improvements, Exxon has already seen methane emissions reduced by 2.0 percent this year at its U.S. shale sites. Additional programs will target the company's refining and chemical manufacturing facilities, according to CNN Money.
Bowing to climate pressure
For years now, ExxonMobil has been a frequent target of climate activists, shareholders, and governments. Cities like San Francisco and New York have gone so far as to file lawsuits against the company demanding Exxon and other oil companies pay billions to cover the costs of protecting their cities from rising sea levels caused by global warming.
Andrew Logan, the director of the oil and gas industry program at sustainability nonprofit Ceres, says this is a good start for Exxon, but it "pales in comparison with the ambition" to what could be accomplished. "Addressing methane emissions is one of the cheapest, most effective ways to address climate change in the short term," he said.
And while Exxon's move is indeed a good start, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said recently that by using existing technologies, methane gas emissions could be slashed by 75 percent. And better yet, the IEA said that 40 to 50 percent of current methane emissions could actually be avoided at no extra cost.
Other major oil and gas companies in the U.S., like ConocoPhillips, have talked about the importance of reducing methane emissions. However, ConocoPhillips is the largest emitter of methane in the U.S. On its website, it details what it plans to do using existing technologies.
European petroleum companies far ahead of U.S.
When it comes to the climate change issue, European companies, like Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum (BP) and Total have all made large investments in renewable energy, including solar, wind and electric charging facilities.
CNN is saying that rather than changing the nature of its business, Exxon is just promising to make it cleaner. "It's not a revolution. It's an evolution," said Pavel Molchanov, a Raymond James energy analyst. However, many people may disagree with CNN's remark.
ExxonMobil has invested billions in creating a biofuel using algae, carbon capture, and storage, as well as funding research and development in new technologies like powering smart windows using transparent solar cells.
More about Exxonmobil, Greenhouse gases, methane reduction, methane flaring, Environment