LONDON (April 7): Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s greenhouse gas emissions edged lower last year due to asset sales, while the amount of natural gas burned off wastefully from its facilities — known as flaring — increased.
Shell’s direct emissions fell to 70 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019 from 71 million a year earlier, it said Tuesday in a report. That’s the lowest since 2016.
“The main reasons for the decrease were divestments (for example, in Argentina, Canada, Iraq, Malaysia, Norway and the U.K.),” the report said. “These decreases were partly offset by the startup of the Prelude floating liquefied natural gas facility in Australia.”
While the Anglo-Dutch oil major is a signatory of the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030, emissions from the practice rose by 700,000 tons to 5.9 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent last year. They have however fallen by half between 2016 to 2019. Shell said its policy is to reduce the practice to as low as “reasonably practical” and will continue to link bonuses to the management of emissions.
“In 2019, demands for urgent action on climate change grew ever louder,” Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said in the report. “Shell shares this sense of urgency.” The company is seeking to reduce its own emissions as well as helping customers reduce theirs by offering more low-carbon products, he added.
Leaks from methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, dropped by 1,000 tons from a year earlier to 91,000 tons. That’s the lowest level since at least 2010. Despite an overall reduction in its carbon footprint, direct emissions from Shell’s integrated gas business rose to the highest level since at least 2016.
The company said it’s working toward its “ambition” to halve the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions from energy products it sells by 2050 from 2016 levels. In the short-term, it’s targeting a 2%-3% drop for next year and a reduction of 20% by 2035.
Globally, Shell’s volume of operational crude spills — which were accidental — fell to 200 tons in 2019, down from 900 tons a year earlier.
But in Nigeria, “sabotage and oil theft remained a significant cause” of incidents in the country. The total numbers of spills caused by sabotage and theft rose to 156 from 109 in 2018, causing 2,000 tons of leaks, up from 1,600 tons a year earlier.