Emissions Methodology, Performance and Metrics
Marathon Oil evaluates our emissions performance on an absolute and rate basis. Our absolute emissions and rates of emissions are influenced by factors including activity levels and portfolio changes. We evaluate our performance using greenhouse gas (GHG) and methane emissions intensity, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions per equivalent barrel of all hydrocarbon produced.
In 2017, global GHG emissions and intensity increased by 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively. The increases were primarily due to higher activity in Oklahoma and the North Dakota Bakken, and our entry into the Permian Basin. We identified all emissions sources in the Permian Basin and are integrating the asset into our management system. Our methane emissions and methane intensity decreased in 2017, primarily due to removal of high bleed pneumatic controllers in Oklahoma and divestiture of non-core assets.
We also measure total methane emissions as a percentage of total natural gas produced, even though we have a liquids-dominated portfolio, particularly in the U.S. Our overall methane emissions ratio decreased by 7 percent in 2017, primarily due to increased gas production from the Alba compression project in Equatorial Guinea, and increased activity in Oklahoma and the Bakken, along with the aforementioned methane emissions reductions.
GHG emissions and GHG emissions intensity in Bakken increased 36 percent and 31 percent, respectively. While we have connected 96 percent of the production facilities to third-party gas pipelines, constrained gas pipeline capacity in the region increased our GHG emissions from flaring of associated gas. Our strategies to continue reducing the amount of gas flared include enabling third-party gas gatherers to build gas infrastructure by providing our drilling plans, assisting with landowner right-of-way acquisitions and prioritizing connections to the gas infrastructure.
Marathon Oil takes action to find and develop oil and natural gas safely and responsibly, including by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) and other air emissions from our operations. Our efforts reduce our exposure to potential changes in climate change regulations, which could increase the costs of emitting GHGs or reduce demand for oil and gas over time. We continuously evaluate and implement strategies and technologies, and annually review cost-effective methods to reduce air emissions from our operations throughout the drilling and production lifecycle.
In 2017, we assisted in establishing The Environmental Partnership as a founding member. This voluntary group of U.S. natural gas and oil companies has a mission to continuously improve the industry's environmental performance by taking action, building knowledge and fostering collaboration among stakeholders. To that end, Marathon Oil enrolled in the partnership's environmental performance programs aimed at reducing emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs):
- Phase-out of high-bleed pneumatic controllers
- Monitoring manual liquids unloading operations to minimize emissions
- Leak detection and repair
In early 2016, our Oklahoma asset set a goal to reduce methane intensity in the asset by at least 50 percent by 2020. We surpassed that goal by the end of 2017, reducing methane intensity by more than 54 percent from the total in 2015. This was achieved by replacing high-bleed pneumatic devices with low-bleed or non-bleeding mechanical controllers in all our Oklahoma facilities.
As part of our commitment to innovation, we implemented a project in 2017 that cut electricity costs and per-barrel production costs by reducing energy used by rod pumping units. This energy efficiency project uses solar technology to power the unit's motor. In six pilots in the Eagle Ford and Bakken, the technology offsets increases in electricity usage from
Our operations use infrared cameras to detect temperature differences that can indicate equipment leaks. Leaking equipment, if found, is repaired as soon as practicable. Some assets initiated a voluntary infrared camera program in 2014; however, all assets now regularly employ infrared camera inspections at operating facilities as required by state and federal requirements. Infrared camera monitoring, along with maintenance and operating practices,
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Marathon Oil uses well-established business processes to evaluate climate change risk in our investment decisions, and engages with external stakeholders to understand their perspectives.
Marathon Oil and our workforce were deeply affected by the record-shattering storm. But we cared for each other, our neighbors and communities, while continuing critical business functions and safeguarding our South Texas Eagle Ford asset.
Digital Oilfield Capabilities
We’re expanding digital oilfield capabilities throughout our U.S. unconventional resource plays. They’re allowing us to automate field operations, transmit and manage large amounts of data, perform site and equipment surveillance remotely, and analyze and optimize operations.
Since 2002, Marathon Oil has been the operator of a world-class integrated gas business in Equatorial Guinea. We’re striving to bring progress, opportunities and national capacity to the community and host nation, while building long-term shareholder value.