Greenhouse gas emissions

We manage our emissions through energy efficiency, reductions in flaring, methane management and the design of new projects

Oil and natural gas companies generate greenhouse gases (GHGs) in almost every aspect of their work, from the finding, extracting and processing of hydrocarbon resources, to the transforming and delivery of these resources to customers. During these processes, the most significant GHG emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO₂) and methane, come from the combustion of fossil fuels for energy, the flaring and venting of gas, and losses from equipment.

Emissions management

We recognize the role GHGs play in climate change and aim to manage our GHG emissions through operational energy efficiency, reductions in flaring and venting, and by factoring a carbon cost into our investment appraisals and the engineering design of new projects. We also participate in global GHG reduction initiatives. We review our emissions and assess possible mitigation measures at a company-wide level, and provide guidance to our businesses to manage emissions in line with applicable local requirements.

We take a holistic approach to our GHG management by tracking and understanding our CO₂ and methane emissions. We recognize the short-term warming effects of methane, the long-term effects of CO₂, and their combined role in climate change.

GHG regulation is increasing globally with a focus on reducing flaring and methane emissions in many jurisdictions. We expect that GHG regulation will continue to have an impact on our businesses, operating costs and strategic planning, but may also offer opportunities for the development of lower-carbon technologies and businesses.

A variety of factors - such as shifts in business activity, production or assets - can influence a company’s GHG emissions. This makes it difficult to establish an appropriate GHG target that can be cascaded throughout the organization with the objective of achieving cost-effective emission reductions. For these reasons, BP, like some of our peers, does not set enterprise-wide GHG targets.

Our performance

We report GHG emissions on a CO₂-equivalent basis, including CO₂ and methane for direct emissions and CO₂ for indirect emissions. Indirect emissions are associated with the purchase of electricity, heat, steam or cooling into our operations. 

We report GHG emissions from all BP’s consolidated entities as well as our share of equity-accounted entities other than BP’s share of Rosneft.

The increase in our reported emissions in 2015 is due to updating the global warming potential for methane. Without this update, our emissions would have decreased primarily due to divestments in Alaska.

Year-on-year variance in BP’s reported direct GHG emissionsᵃ

ᵃ Because of rounding, some totals may not agree exactly with the sum of their counterparts.

ᵇ The 2015 figure reflects our update of the global warming potential for methane from 21 to 25, in line with IPIECA’s guidelines.

Table of emissionsᵃ

BP GHG emissions
BP GHG emissions
2011
2011
2012
2012
2013
2013
2014
2014
2015
2015
BP GHG emissions
Direct carbon dioxide (CO₂) million tonnes
2011
57.7
2012
56.4
2013
47.0
2014
45.5
2015
45.0
BP GHG emissions
Direct methane (CH₄) million tonnesᵃ
2011
0.20
2012
0.17
2013
0.16
2014
0.15
2015
0.16
BP GHG emissions
Direct greenhouse gas million tonnes CO₂ equivalentᵃ
2011
61.8
2012
59.8
2013
50.3
2014
48.6
2015
48.9
BP GHG emissions
Indirect carbon dioxide (CO₂) million tonnes
2011
9.0
2012
8.4
2013
6.7ᵇ
2014
6.8ᶜ
2015
6.9
ᵃ The 2015 figure reflects our update of the global warming potential for methane from 21 to 25, in line with IPIECA’s guidelines.
ᵇ The reported 2013 figure of 6.6Mte has been amended to 6.7Mte.
ᶜ The reported 2014 figure of 6.6Mte has been amended to 6.8Mte.
Each year since 2002 we have estimated the reduction in our reported annual GHG emissions due to efficiency projects - those not driven by regulatory requirements. These projects include reductions in flaring and venting, as well as energy efficiency projects, such as process optimization and waste-heat recovery. By the end of 2015 the running total of these real sustainable reductions exceeded 8.8Mte.
Our direct GHG emissions in Upstream were 25.3Mte. Our direct GHG emissions in Downstream were 21.2Mte. Our direct GHG emissions in shipping, renewables and other businesses (OB&C) were 2.5Mte.

Information on our emissions using an operational control boundary is available in our Annual Report and Form 20-F 2015. We report GHG emissions and GHG intensity on an operational control basis to meet UK regulatory requirements.

GHG emissions by activity (MteCO₂e)ᵃ

ᵃ The 2015 figure reflects our update of the global warming potential for methane from 21 to 25, in line with IPIECA’s guidelines.

Methane

Methane has a strong warming effect on the climate, but a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere. We manage these emissions at a local level and take actions to control them, such as capturing gas that would otherwise be vented, and installing new equipment that uses compressed air, rather than natural gas.

We use a process called green completions at our gas operations in the US. This process captures natural gas which would otherwise be flared or vented during the completion and commissioning of wells.

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) is committed to reducing short-lived climate pollutants. We joined the CCAC’s Oil and Gas Methane Partnership in 2015, which aims to reduce methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. As part of this voluntary initiative, participating companies analyse sources of methane to evaluate cost-effective technologies for methane emissions reduction.

Through our participation in the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative we are working to improve the understanding and reliability of methane data. This will help to better prioritize mitigation measures.

GHG emissions by source (MteCO₂e)

ᵃ The 2015 figure reflects our update of the global warming potential for methane from 21 to 25, in line with IPIECA’s guidelines.
“Methane emissions are important to understand, and even more important to control, in order to reduce the impact on climate change and to maximize the life cycle GHG advantages of natural gas. At BP, we’ve taken significant steps to understand the methane emissions from our upstream operations. For example, we have years of experience studying and improving the emissions performance of our onshore Lower 48 assets and have just completed detailed baseline surveys of our other global operated facilities. These surveys will help to identify potential reduction opportunities.

Through our participation in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition methane initiative, we will be able to share our knowledge and experience in the onshore US, and benefit from the learnings of our peers. The initiative provides the opportunity for the industry, government and non-government organizations to work together to develop a common understanding of methane emissions and practical ways to minimize them.”

Muhunthan Sathiamoorthy, GHG and energy efficiency expert, safety and operational risk, BP

GHG intensity

For each of our major businesses, we track GHG intensity, which is the quantity of GHG emitted in tonnes (te) per a defined unit of measurement.

Upstream

The increased GHG intensity in our upstream operations over the past few years reflects our divestment of lower-intensity assets, increasing intensity in new areas that are more technically challenging, and late-life operations. Although there may be annual fluctuations, it is likely that the carbon intensity of our upstream operations will continue to increase for these reasons.

Refining

We expect the GHG intensity of our refining portfolio to remain relatively flat or to decrease at certain refineries due to efficiency projects in progress.

Petrochemicals

The decrease in GHG intensity of our petrochemicals portfolio reflects ongoing efficiency gains in our aromatics and acetyls businesses.

Upstream - GHG intensity - five-year trendᵃ

ᵃ The 2015 figure reflects our update of the global warming potential for methane from 21 to 25, in line with IPIECA’s guidelines.

Refining - GHG intensity - five-year trendᵃᵇ

ᵃ The 2015 figure reflects our update of the global warming potential for methane from 21 to 25, in line with IPIECA’s guidelines.
ᵇ For refining we normalize using utilized equivalent distillation capacity™ (UEDC™). UEDC™ has been developed by Solomon Associates and is used globally in the refining industry as a normalized measure of production. It is essentially a measure of the refinery’s complexity weighted throughput.

Petrochemicals - GHG intensity - five-year trendᵃ

ᵃ The 2015 figure reflects our update of the global warming potential for methane from 21 to 25, in line with IPIECA’s guidelines.

Attestation

The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2015 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.

Related content