Playing Offense: Act vs. React


Jan 10, 2023

Act vs. React

Who better to create solutions than those tasked with implementing those solutions? Author, lecturer, academic, and international strategist Wayne Visser recently participated in an SPE event and discussed the negative characterization of the oil and gas industry by some environmental groups, and how that hostility impedes industry involvement in sustainability progress. Visser advocates for “realistic enthusiasm” in both executives and employees to help meet challenges in energy production and the transition to renewables.

Visser says demonization of the oil and gas industry has stifled industry motivation to seek improvement, even though the industry has resources, technologies, and highly skilled personnel who can advance sustainable methods and programs.

“I know what transformational change looks like and feels like, and I do see some parallels with what's happening in oil and gas or in the energy transition,” Visser said.

The energy sector does contribute to climate change, and can also have an enormous role to play in contributing to innovative solutions, according to Mindset Results founder Marinma Dorado, another participant in the SPE discussion.

“The change will also come from within the oil and gas (industry)” said Visser, specifically mentioning green hydrogen projects and projects that eliminate methane leaks.

Taking Initiative

While oil and gas producers have faced mounting criticism and vilification by some environmental groups, many are taking proactive measures; going above and beyond requirements to supply affordable and reliable energy while also being good stewards of the environment.

Some leading energy companies and how they are making a difference:

  • EOG Resources, Inc. has reduced methane emissions by 85% since 2017, is targeting near-zero methane emissions and zero flaring by 2025, and had a 99.8% 2022 wellhead gas capture rate. EOG also joined the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0 (OGMP 2.0), the reporting and mitigation program of the UN Environment Programme and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.
  • Seneca Resources, a subsidiary of National Fuel, is replacing pipelines and modernizing facilities and equipment (compressors, valves, and actuators) to reach 2030 emission reduction goals. Seneca is part of The Environmental Partnership, an API effort to improve the industry’s natural gas and oil environmental performance.
  • Coterra Energy reduced its absolute CO2 (from 2019 to 2021) emissions by 33% by electrifying compression equipment. Methane emissions are reduced by focusing on pneumatic controllers, well liquid unloading, combustion efficiency, completions venting, and fugitive emissions.
  • Cenovus Energy, a large Canadian oil and gas producer, is deeply invested in preserving regional indigenous culture, as well as land, air, and water quality. They are working to reduce Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 35% by 2035 (from 2019 levels) and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
  • ConocoPhillips is building a resilient asset portfolio and focusing on low cost of supply and low GHG intensity resources: The goal is net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2050. They are identifying and evaluating investment opportunities in low end-use emissions and low-carbon technologies, and seeking to integrate existing expertise.

Companies taking the initiative enjoy less punitive fines, greater investment, and differentiate themselves from their competition. Negative characterization of the industry by some environmental groups hinders this by impeding industry involvement in sustainability.

To reduce emissions and produce clean energy environmental groups should work with the industry to utilize their resources, technology, and skills instead of working against them.