While the U.S. has pledged to reduce methane and carbon dioxide emissions to half what they were in 2005 by the end of the decade, data shows greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased by 6.2% in 2021.
An Easy Target: Oil and Gas
The oil and gas industry often receives the bulk of the criticism when it comes to failing to reduce emissions, despite providing energy essential to nearly every aspect of modern life. While production inherently results in emissions, the industry has taken steps to minimize GHGs and the same innovation that gave the U.S. energy independence can now be harnessed to lead the way to a net-zero-carbon future.
The International Energy Agency says that oil and gas will be essential to energy production through 2050 and beyond. Making the push to eliminate fugitive emissions and minimize GHGs throughout the full scope of operations throughout the industry the most important initiative to achieve carbon reduction goals.
Understanding Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Energy used to explore for hydrocarbons, drill, pump, and then transport them produces greenhouse gases. GHG Protocol, the world’s most widely used greenhouse gas accounting standards, categorizes these industry GHG emissions.
- Scope 1 – direct emissions from owned/controlled sources
- Scope 2 – indirect emissions from company energy use
- Scope 3 – all other indirect emissions in company’s value chain
Scope 1 emissions are the key to decarbonization in the short-term and fugitive emissions are the most actionable way to address them. Flaring, venting, and leaks from wells, pipelines, and storage sites represent the bulk of fugitive emissions. Innovative new technologies like LDAR emissions monitoring, zero bleed controllers, and biomineralization based sealing offer solutions to these problems that can make energy much cleaner.
Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration
The long-range plan industry must be a circular economy, actively mitigating environmental impact by identifying and supporting beneficial, complementary uses for CO₂.
- Collecting carbon dioxide (Capture)
- Finding another use for it (Utilization)
- Storing it safely underground (Sequestration)
The industry’s knowledge of subsurface environments is unparalleled and is crucial to the development of carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS).
Environmental, Social, and Governance
With decarbonization in the global spotlight, stakeholders are increasingly scrutinizing environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance under pressure to divest from the oil and gas sector. However, this trend is shortsighted as continued capital investment is necessary to progress CCUS and sustainability initiatives.
Constrained capital for U.S. oil and gas companies will only lead to the supply gap will be filled by countries with less stringent regulatory standards, oversight, commitment to ESG principles, and in some cases basic human rights. While divestment may decrease U.S. emissions, it will actually contribute to the problem, increasing global emissions.
Consumers are being given increased options to “green” their own emissions and thereby help to address the sectors Scope 3 emissions. Some oil and gas companies offer customers a pay-at-the-pump option to pay for offsets in the form of tree planting or other GHG removal to balance the climate-change impacts of the fuel they are using.
Additionally, oil and gas companies can utilize digital tools to track supply chains, carbon release, and wastage to provide confidence in product sourcing. Tracking can provide product differentiation in the form of certified clean fuel and propel the industry toward net-zero.
The Path to Net Zero
A net-zero future demands industry commitment to 2050 carbon reduction targets. Keeping carbon out of the atmosphere requires emissions-stopping solutions like BioSqueeze® to close GHG leakage pathways and mitigate fugitive emissions. Decarbonization begins at your wellsite.