Royal Dutch Shell, in its 2014 Sustainability Report, says it saw improved environmental performance in most areas; however, flaring led to an increase in the company’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Direct GHG emissions from facilities went up 4 percent, from 63 million metric tons of CO2 in 2013 to 76 million metric tons of CO2 in 2014. The main reasons for the increase were the restart of production at Majnoon in Iraq and higher production at the Pearl GTL plant in Qatar, leading to increased operational flaring of excess waste gas. Flaring made up about 17 percent of Shell’s direct GHG emissions in 2014.
Shell is committed to long-term flaring reduction and is a long-time member of the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) partnership. The company is participating in the Zero Flaring by 2030 initiative, developed by the World Bank through the GGFR partnership.
To help manage its direct GHG emissions, Shell is working on improving energy efficiency at facilities. In 2014, overall energy intensity for the production of oil and gas in its upstream business improved slightly — just over 2 percent — compared to 2013.
In 2014, Shell achieved its lowest level of recorded operational spills, dropping from 900 metric tons in 2013 to 700 metric tons in 2014. Sabotage and oil theft remain a significant cause of spills. Although the number of sabotage- and theft-related spills decreased to 139 in 2014 from 157 in 2013, the volume of these spills increased to 2,700 metric tons in 2014 compared to 2,200 metric tons in 2013.
Overall fresh water use increased .5 percent, from 198 million cubic meters in 2013 to 199 million cubic meters in 2014. To help with its overall water reduction efforts, Shell is developing water management plans at its major facilities located in water scarce regions.
Shell is generating less waste, down 31 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. The company reuses or recycles when possible. Hazardous waste is treated onsite or removed for treatment or safe disposal. This is a welcome turnaround in light of the increase in waste output the company reported in its 2012 Sustainability Report.