ExxonMobil: Beyond Compliance: Methane Emission Reductions

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In May 2018, the ExxonMobil Mobile Bay team initiated a greenhouse gas reduction plan to mitigate environmental impacts in Mobile Bay. This plan was developed by employees at the Mobile Bay Site and its execution served as the flagship of the company’s voluntary commitment to the American Petroleum Institute (API) Environmental Partnership Program. 

Starting in July 2018, the offshore operations team replaced all 50 pneumatic valve controllers with 75% lower natural gas consuming alternatives. This resulted in reducing methane emissions by 75 tons per year. Overall, about 3.5 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per year can be reallocated for sale to the Mobile, Alabama community instead of being released to the environment. 

Any small change can have a big impact,” said Miriam Hegglin, environmental engineer with ExxonMobile Mobile Bay. “And the project is cost effective,” adds Hegglin, “so in the long run it’s a win-win both environmentally and economically.” The cost savings associated with reduced natural gas consumption by the new “low-bleed” controllers will result in a payback period of about 3 years to offset the initial cost of the controllers.

This project allowed ExxonMobil to become a member of the American Petroleum Institute (API) Environmental Partnership Program (EPP), a joint industry voluntary partnership committed to improving the industry’s environmental performance. 

We are committed to operating in a responsible manner,” said Higgins. “We are constantly looking for opportunities to be better stewards of the environment. 

Local pride also plays a part. Greg Hrinsin, operations compliance manager, noted the important “realization of how we can impact global greenhouse gas emissions on a local level.” The project may have started locally, but initiative is spreading beyond Mobile Bay. 

We are looking at all of our older facilities to see if we can change the controllers out,” said Hegglin. The Mobile Bay project will be shared with other ExxonMobil facilities globally. Likewise, through annual reporting to API’s Environmental Partnership Program, companies throughout the industry can learn from the success of this initiative.