By: Lori LeBlanc for BIC Magazine
Oil and gas production and environmental protection have often been viewed by some groups as an either-or proposition. Recent activity vividly demonstrates, however, what Louisiana’s offshore oil and gas industry has long insisted – we can have both.
American oil and gas production is now at record-breaking levels, and Americans are more energy independent than ever before in our nation’s history. Since 2016, domestic oil production has climbed from 8.8 million barrels a day to 11 million barrels a day, about twice the production in 2010. Natural gas production, meanwhile, has grown to nearly 74 billion cubic feet per day, making the United States the largest producer of natural gas in the world. In addition, the Bureau of Land Management announced in February that 2018 was a record year for oil and natural gas lease sales, yielding over $1 billion. The Trump administration’s five-year offshore lease program is also expected to increase access and production with the opening of areas of the Atlantic and Eastern Gulf of Mexico OCS for development.
This strong domestic energy supply coupled with the 10 million jobs created in the oil and gas sector means that America’s oil and gas industry is fueling more than planes, trains and automobiles; American oil and gas fuels our economy and so much more.
Advanced low-carbon technology developed and implemented by the industry has also helped the United States become a world leader in the annual reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Since 2016, while oil and gas production catapulted to these historic levels, CO2emissions have decreased by almost 3 percent, and CO2 emissions have reached their lowest level in a generation. Likewise, methane emissions have fallen 16 percent while natural gas production has increased by over 50 percent since 1990, according to the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Erik Milito.
“This is what energy and economic leadership looks like,” Milito says. “The development of oil and natural gas, both onshore and offshore, allows the U.S. to lead the way – investing resources back in our communities as well as the environment through industry’s advancement of low-carbon technologies.”
Oil and gas operators not just here in the United States, but around the globe, are also making huge strides in emissions reductions. Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported in September 2017 that 62 of the world’s largest oil companies consistently reduced emissions each year from 2010 to 2015, cutting emissions by 12 percent over that time.
For example, ExxonMobil has spent around $8 billion to launch low-emission equipment throughout its operations, according to reports, and is also studying new technologies to make further emissions reductions. Shell announced in November 2017 that it would cut CO2 emissions in half by 2050 and intends to invest in processes like carbon capture and storage, an innovation that pulls greenhouse gases from emissions and stores them underground.
BP plans to grow production by 900,000 barrels of oil and gas per day between 2015 and 2021, and reduce carbon emissions by 3.5 million tons by 2025 through higher production of gas, methane leak reduction and limiting flaring of excess gas. Shell, Exxon Mobil and BP have also joined other large international oil and gas operators, multinational agencies and environmental organizations in signing on to guiding principles for cutting emissions.
Chevron is reducing emissions by reducing flares and methane leaks, and implementing carbon capture and storage. In addition, Chevron is one of more than 25 operators participating in API’s The Environmental Partnership launched in December 2017. The initiative focuses on reducing methane leaks in wells, pipelines and other U.S. production locations, monitoring and controlling fugitive emissions, and retrofitting existing equipment with low- or zero-emitting devices. The innovations continue.
Louisiana’s offshore oil and gas industry joins operators around the world in making environmental sustainability a priority in all of our operations. When it comes to energy and the environment, we know that we can have it all.