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BP Sustainability Report: Greenhouse Emissions, Energy Use Drop

Oil giant BP’s direct greenhouse gas emissions dropped from 64.9 million metric tons in 2010 to 61.8 Mte in 2011, according to the company’s latest combined annual and sustainability report.

BP attributes the 3.1 Mte decrease – an almost five percent drop – to the temporary reduction in activity in some of its businesses as a result of maintenance work, and also to the sale of assets as part of the company’s disposal program.

However, the oil firm expects the carbon intensity of parts of its business to increase over the long term as the business plans moves into what it calls technically more difficult and potentially more energy-intensive areas. These include Canada’s tar sands deposits and further deep-water drilling. The intensity of some refining operations is also likely to increase with what BP calls a trend towards using heavier crudes, which require more energy to be refined, the annual report states.

In 2010, BP did not report on emissions associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident or response. The company now estimates that gross direct CO2 equivalent emissions from response activities were around 481,000 metric tons.

The impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 is still heavily evident in the company’s sustainability report. The amount of money spent on the spill response has, unsurprisingly, plummeted year-on-year. In 2010, the company spent $13.6 billion on spill response compared to $586 million in 2011. But the amount of money being spent on environmental remediation of the Gulf of Mexico and its surroundings has increased from $929 million in 2010 to $1.1 billion in 2011.

Last year, in its first corporate sustainability report since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the company refused to put a figure on the amount of oil leaked or CO2 emitted in the spill.

In 2011, BP’s total reported primary energy consumption was approximately 0.96 billion gigajoules. This was around 10 percent lower than the 2010 reported consumption of 1.06 billion GJ and the company’s first year-on-year reduction in consumption since 2008. BP attributes this decrease to reductions in fuel gas use in the exploration and production section of the business, due to divestments and, similar to the reduction in greenhouse emissions, a reduction in refinery operations due to maintenance. Refining accounted for about 43 percent of all the energy consumed by BP in 2011.

BP’s group emissions of methane, NOx and SOx decreased in 2011. NOx emissions dropped by 28 percent in 2011, primarily driven by divestments, which BP says accounted for 40 percent of the reduction.

The company’s production of non-hazardous waste decreased from 861 thousand metric tons, or kte, in 2010 to 550 kte in 2011. BP also showed a slight decline in its hazardous waste production. The company employs techniques such as composting in Indonesia, and turns waste into energy at its Scotland-based North Sea operations, the sustainability review says. Over 1,100 domestic and commercial properties receive heated water from this program, the review says.

BP Group’s total water withdrawal decreased by 5.4 million m³ in 2011 from 342.07 million m³ in 2010 to 336.69 million m³ in 2011 – a decrease of 1.5 percent. The company says it carries out analysis of its water withdrawal at sites worldwide. At a site in Algeria, BP launched a water sustainability study looking at its future requirements in the area compared with the sustainability of existing freshwater resources.

Fines and penalties paid by the group in 2011 totalled $77,4 million. By comparison, BP reported fines and penalties totaling $52.5 million in 2010, $66.6 million in 2009 and $1.1 million in 2008.

The largest fine in 2011 relate to BP’s Texas City Refinery, which was fined $50 million for air emissions and reporting violations, and a $25 million fine leveled in Alaska for oil spills and other alleged violations in the Prudhoe Bay.

Figures used above were garnered from BP’s 2011 annual report, sustainability review and its online, interactive health, safety and environment charting tool.

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