Air quality

The production of oil and gas can contribute to air pollution in surrounding communities

Tackling local air quality is increasingly of interest to communities, governments and other stakeholders, driven mainly by public health concerns.

Some of our activities, such as burning fossil fuels at our operations for power generation and operating our shipping fleet, emit air pollutants. We put measures in place to manage these emissions, in line with regulations and guidelines designed to protect the environment and the health of local communities.

Our Whiting refinery is one of the largest refineries in the US, with the potential to have a significant impact on local air quality. We have reduced our air emissions there by more than 50% over the past five years by minimizing the amount of gas flared and emissions from process equipment. We monitor sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, benzene and other pollutants at the periphery of the refinery and make this data available on the refinery’s website. This forms part of our commitment to provide comprehensive air quality information to the local community.

We are piloting portable air quality monitoring pods that contain real-time technology, designed to measure nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides in different climates and physical environments. We tested the pods at our Sangachal facility in Azerbaijan, and found that the data provides a better understanding of the impact of our emissions.

The increase in emissions of nitrogen oxide in 2016 is primarily due to operational variability in our upstream business. For example, emissions from increased drilling and well testing activity in North Africa and the Middle East were partially offset by decreases in drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico. The decrease in emissions of non-methane hydrocarbons is primarily due to portfolio changes in our downstream business, such as the divestment of our Decatur petrochemical plant in the US. Sulphur oxide emissions have remained even.

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