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ExxonMobil Sets 2020 Goal to Slash Natural Gas Flaring, Methane Emissions

ExxonMobil Corp. on Wednesday set a two-year target to reduce natural gas flaring by 25% and methane emissions by 15% to improve overall business operations.

The Irving, TX-based supermajor also has a goal to improve energy efficiency at its global refining and chemical manufacturing facilities.

The emissions cuts would build on an estimated $9 billion spent since 2000 to lower emissions, which have included investments in cogeneration, flare reduction, energy efficiency, biofuels, carbon capture/storage and other technologies.

“We have a longstanding commitment to improve efficiency and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions,” said CEO Darren W. Woods. The latest reduction effort “builds on that commitment and will help further drive improvements in our business.”

Several initiatives are designed to significantly reduce methane emissions, one of which was launched last year at production and midstream facilities across the United States.

Subsidiary XTO Energy Inc., which handles U.S. onshore operations, over the past year has reduced by an estimated 2% its methane emissions through leak detection/repair efforts and operational improvements, the company noted. 

Combined with additional measures outside the United States that are focused on the most significant sources of methane, ExxonMobil expects to achieve a 15% reduction of methane emissions by 2020 compared to 2016.

The most significant flaring reductions are expected to be in the company’s West Africa operations and would include using third-party infrastructure.

Further emissions reduction efforts would target the global refining and chemicals manufacturing network with the goal of improving existing efficiencies.

To better understand the magnitude and characteristics of energy industry-related methane emissions, ExxonMobil has participated in past studies conducted by the University of Texas at Austin and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). It also is a technical adviser for the Stanford and EDF Mobile Monitoring Challenge.

In addition, ExxonMobil is participating in a methane measurement reconciliation study with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and in supporting research currently underway at Harvard and the University of Texas Energy Initiative.

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