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Sunoco, Shell, Chevron Boast GHG Emission Cuts

Although Sunoco, Shell and Chevron report reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 2009, part of the declines can be attributed to lower production demand.

Sunoco has reduced its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at its refineries and chemical plants by more than 19 percent since 1990, according to the company’s 2009 Corporate Responsibility Report. Refinery GHG emissions dropped by 15 percent and GHG emissions from chemical plants fell by nearly 12 percent in 2009, compared to 2008. The company attributes the reductions to improved greenhouse gas inventories and calculation factors for electricity.

When normalized on a per barrel of throughput basis, GHG emissions decreased at Sunoco’s refineries by 4.1 percent from 2008, and were 9.6 percent lower than 1990. Chemical plant emissions — per pound of production — increased 25.6 percent when compared with 2008, and increased 9.1 percent over 1990 levels. The company says production levels decreased 29.8 percent versus 2008 and 40.5 percent versus the baseline.

The oil company’s refineries and chemical plants also have reduced air exceedances by more than 20 percent, compared to 2008, through investments in emissions control technology and other plant modifications. Click here for a complete performance summary.

Sunoco reports that energy consumption decreased by 11.4 percent at its refineries and chemical plants in 2009, compared to 2008. However, production decreased in 2009 by 11.7 percent at the refineries and by 29.8 percent at the chemical plants, when compared with 2008.

Similarly, Chevron touts its GHG emission cuts. In 2009, the oil company reduced its emissions by approximately 2.2 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. Chevron also reduced GHG emissions from flaring by eight percent in 2009, compared to 2008, and advanced projects that will continue to reduce GHG emissions from flaring in Angola, Kazakhstan and Nigeria, according to the company’s 2009 Corporate Responsibility Report (PDF).

Chevron estimates that combustion of its products resulted in emissions of approximately 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2009, approximately 7 percent more than the 382 million metric tons in 2008.

Chevron has increased its own energy efficiency by 30 percent since 1992.

In 2009, Chevron approved the $37 billion Gorgon natural gas project off the northwest coast of Australia, the largest energy project in the company’s history. To reduce carbon emissions, the project plans to capture and reinject carbon dioxide (CO2) from natural gas production. This project will inject four times more CO2 than any other project, according to the report.

In the area of renewable energy, Chevron Energy Solutions (CES) has several projects in the United States to improve energy efficiency and install renewable power technologies at schools, federal facilities and Chevron facilities.

In 2010, Chevron is adding a solar system to power the pumps and pipelines at its Kern River oil field facility and is planning a 1 megawatt concentrating photovoltaic solar facility at a molybdenum nine in New Mexico.

Shell also reports lower GHG emissions for 2009. The energy company’s direct GHG emissions from facilities it operates were 67 million tonnes on a CO2-equivalent basis in 2009, 11 percent lower than in 2008 and around 35 percent below 1990 levels, according to the company’s Sustainability Report for 2009 (PDF). The company attributes the decline to several factors including improved operational performance, lower demand for its products due to the economic downturn, some shut-in production in Nigeria and the sale of some facilities.

The company’s total GHG emissions in 2009, around 11 percent came from the flaring of gas in its upstream business. Some was operational flaring for safety reasons and during the start-up of facilities, but the company said it is working to reduce operational flaring.

The company expects that natural gas will be more than 50 percent of its energy output by about 2012. This is expected to reduce CO2 emissions since it produces up to 70 percent less CO2 than coal when used to generate the same amount of electricity.

Lower-carbon biofuels also will become a greater part of Shell’s efforts to reduce CO2 from the transport fuels mix. In 2009, Shell made investments in developing advanced fuels and lubricants as well as improving its technologies to reduce emissions. Over the past five years, the company has spent $2 billion on carbon capture and storage (CCS) and alternative energies, including biofuels.

Shell is also participating in several CCS projects including the Gorgon liquefied natural gas project in Australia, of which it holds a 25 percent interest, and the Mongstad, Norway project, which is expected to capture up to 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year from 2011. Other CCS projects include Shell’s proposed Quest project in Canada and the Barendrecht CCS project in the Netherlands.

Here’s how they stack up in GGH emission reductions.

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