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From ExxonMobil's website on carbon capture and storage (CCS):

With a working interest in approximately one-fifth of the world’s total carbon capture capacity, ExxonMobil is a leader in one of the most important next-generation low-greenhouse gas emissions technologies, capturing about 7 million tonnes per year of CO2. Since 1970, ExxonMobil has cumulatively captured more CO2 than any other company — accounting for more than 40 percent of cumulative CO2 captured.

  1. Does ExxonMobil capture "about 7 million tonnes per year of CO2?" These two ExxonMobil sites write "In 2017, ExxonMobil captured 6.6 million metric tons of CO2 for storage." However, I couldn't find the same figure on non-ExxonMobil sites.
  2. Has ExxonMobil "cumulatively captured more CO2 than any other company?"
  3. Is ExxonMobil responsible for "more than 40 percent of cumulative CO2 captured?"

Never mind the title. I am using sequestered as a synonym of CCS to reduce title length. Else, the title looks clumsy.

  • I am not happy with my answer below (it mostly depends on a report by a non-profit organization of which ExxonMobil is a member). I encourage you to submit your own and will carefully look at it. Thanks in advance! – Barry Harrison Apr 20 at 8:17
  • It needs to be noted that this is praising by faint damn. ExonMobil, since it has a lot of empty wells, a lot of pipelines, and a lot of CO2 sources, can fairly easily sequester a lot of CO2. And you've got to give them some credit for trying (though the government may also be giving them credit). But ExonMobil sells a enormous amount of oil and gas, so the amount of CO2 it sequesters is no doubt tiny when considered in relation to the amount it's responsible, directly or indirectly, for producing. I'm sure there are other companies with a much higher ratio of sequestered/produce. – Daniel R Hicks Apr 20 at 11:58
  • @DanielRHicks Read my note in the "answer": "It is interesting to note that the facility is operated to benefit ExxonMobil (see enhanced oil recovery) and not necessarily to reduce carbon emissions or be environmentally friendly." – Barry Harrison Apr 20 at 18:46
  • @Oddthinking, I couldn't find a specific period the claim was referring to. The website is written in the present-tense, so I'm not sure if I can guess that either. – Barry Harrison Apr 20 at 18:48
  • 1
    So they aren't "capturing for storage", they are using an unwanted byproduct of fossil fuel extraction to ease further extraction, i.e. getting at more oil (which will eventually be turned into CO2). And then they task the PR department to make it sound as if they're actually benefitting the environment. Pshaw! – DevSolar Apr 29 at 12:44
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This answer is now complete. Note all values of cumulative CO2 produced refer to as of end of year 2018.

I have finally found an ExxonMobil document that cited a source, rather than simply state the claim (as is with this and this ExxonMobil site). The document is here and the claim is mentioned in the first paragraph of page 20 of the pdf. Part of the paragraph is cited below.

Since 1970, ExxonMobil has cumulatively captured more CO2 than any other company - accounting for more than 40 percent of cumulative CO2 captured. We have a working interest in more than one-fifth of the world’s carbon capture capacity, capturing nearly 7 million tonnes of CO2 in 2017.

The source, listed as number 28 on page 38, reads

Source: Global CCS Institute. Data updated as of April 2018 and based on cumulative anthropogenic carbon dioxide capture volume. Anthropogenic CO2, for the purposes of this calculation, means CO2 that without carbon capture and storage would have been emitted to the atmosphere, including,but not limited to: reservoir CO2 from gas fields; CO2 emitted during production and CO2 emitted during combustion. It does not include natural CO2 produced solely for enhanced oil recovery.

This source isn't specific and I could not find any document from the Global CCS Institute that mentioned "cumulative anthropogenic carbon dioxide capture volume." Note that ExxonMobil is a member of the Global CCS Institute, so there may be a conflict of interest. ("Amongst [the Insititute's] representation are ... multinationals such as ... ExxonMobil...") However, "the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Japan and Australia" are members, so, for this answer, I will assume this source is credible.

I was unable to find a document from the Global CCS Institute that contained data on "cumulative anthropogenic carbon dioxide capture volume." I did, however, find this document. On page 55, under "Largest CCS integrated project in operation" is the "ExxonMobil Shute Creek CCS-EOR project in North America." Furthermore, a bullet point reads "Capture and store 6.5MtCO2/year." Thus, this may be the "about 7 million tonnes per year of CO2." On page 22, however, it lists "7 MtCO2/year" as the capacity of the plant.

This EPA document writes "ExxonMobil forecasts the total volume of CO2 stored [at the ExxonMobil Shute Creek Treating Facility] over the modeled injection period to be approximately 37 million metric tons." but doesn't state an expected million metric ton per year of injected CO2. Additionally, this MIT site lists the "size" as "7 Mt/yr (365m cubic feet/day)."

In more words, but with a similar meaning, zeroco2.no wrote

ExxonMobil's Shute Creek gas processing plant near LaBarge, Wyoming, is currently capturing around 7 million tonnes per annum of CO2.

From the Global CCS Institute:

CO2 CAPTURE CAPACITY VOLUME: 7 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa)

c2es.org writes

1986: Exxon Shute Creek Gas Processing Facility in Wyoming. This natural gas processing plant serves ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Anadarko Petroleum CO2 pipeline systems to oil fields in Wyoming and Colorado and is the largest commercial carbon capture facility in the world at 7 million tons of capacity annually.

Thus, the first claim is true if the Exxon Shute Creek Gas Processing Facility captures 7 million metric tons of CO2 annually. I will need to further look into the credibility of the sources, but the quantity and agreement of the sources seems to make falsification of the value (7 million tons) doubtful. It is interesting to note that the facility is operated to benefit ExxonMobil (see enhanced oil recovery) and not necessarily to reduce carbon emissions or be environmentally friendly.

Speculation on 2: page 22 of this document lists "All integrated projects in operation are associated with the oil and gas industry." Assuming that ExxonMobil's Shute Creek plant has been capturing CO2 since 1986 (as seen in the document) at an average rate of 4 MtCO2/year, the plant would have captured 132 MtCO2 now (4*33). By performing similar math for all plants listed on that page, all other plants have captured 160 MtCO2. Thus, ExxonMobil will have captured 45% (which is more than 40%) of all cumulative CO2 captured.

Regarding 2: The Global CCS Institute has an "up to date" database of CCS facilities. They write

Large-scale integrated CCS facilities comprise the capture, transport, and storage of CO2 at a scale of at least 800,000 tonnes of CO2 annually for a coal-based power plant, or at least 400,000 tonnes of CO2 annually for other emissions-intensive industrial facilities (including natural gas-based power generation).

Setting "Category" on the website to "Large-scale CCS facilities" and sorting by "Operation Date," we can count up the total metric tons per year of all captured CO2 in industrial plants. Doing this only for plants "in operation," 33.3 million metric tons of CO2 is captured annually (please check my work!). I checked all the plants in operation and only one is by ExxonMobil - listed as "Shute Creek Gas Processing Plant" with a capture capacity of 7.0 million metric tons. Thus, ExxonMobil captures 7.0/33.3 * 100%, or just 21% of all captured CO2 annually. However, ExxonMobil's claims are "cumulative." Performing similar math with the same website for cumulative CO2 captured gives 265.1 million metric tons of CO2 not including Exxon's plant. To capture 40% of all cumulative CO2, ExxonMobil would need to have captured 176.733 million metric tons (again, check my math please). Assuming that the ExxonMobil plant captured 4 Mt/year from 1986 to 2008, closed 2 years for expansion, and opened from 2010 to the present day and capturing 7 Mt/year, ExxonMobil's lone plant would have captured 155 million metric tons of CO2. This is equivalent to 36.9% and is not enough to be "more than 40 percent of cumulative CO2 captured."

Speculation on 3: Performing similar calculations of MtCO2 captured, but per company, shows that each has captured less than 132 MtCO2. Thus, ExxonMobil has "cumulatively captured more CO2 than any other company." The assumption is that (1) all CO2 capturing plants operated by a company are listed on the document, (2) that all capacity values (MtCO2/year) are accurate, and (3) the ExxonMobil plant captures carbon at an average of 4 MtCO2/year. Note that I did not assume an average rate of 7 MtCO2/year. This is because of a 2010 plant expansion. I used 4 MtCO2/year because MIT lists the "start date" as "1986. 2008 (4 Mt/yr); 2010 (6 Mt/yr)." This isn't absolutely clear, but appears to indicate that 4 Mt/yr was captured between 1986 and 2008 before the plant expansion.

Regarding 3: Using the same site as for 2, and performing individual calculations for each company, I confirmed that ExxonMobil has "cumulatively captured more CO2 than any other company." The runner up is Occidental Petroleum and Sandridge Energy at (currently) 75.6 million metric tons of CO2.

To summarize:

Does ExxonMobil capture "about 7 million tonnes per year of CO2?"

Yes, ExxonMobil captures "about 7 million tonnes per year of CO2."

Has ExxonMobil "cumulatively captured more CO2 than any other company?"

Yes, ExxonMobil has "cumulatively captured more CO2 than any other company."

Is ExxonMobil responsible for "more than 40 percent of cumulative CO2 captured?"

No, ExxonMobil is NOT responsible for "more than 40 percent of cumulative CO2 captured." ExxonMobil is responsible for 36.9 percent of cumulative CO2 captured.

As @DevSolar says ExxonMobil isn't exactly "'capturing for storage', they are using an unwanted byproduct of fossil fuel extraction to ease further extraction, i.e. getting at more oil (which will eventually be turned into CO2)."

Note: I have not found other ExxonMobil CO2 capture plants that have shut down and thus, aren't in the Global CCS Institute's database. Please comment if you do.

  • Answer has been thoroughly revised. Please suggest improvements! Also if you find another Exxon CO2 capture plant (I have not), please let me know. Thanks! – Barry Harrison Apr 22 at 22:50
  • It looks like it would be around 32% of cumulative CO2 instead of 40%, so that claim is false, but not drastically so. That's the sort of error you could get by pulling data from one source instead of another. – Ask About Monica Apr 23 at 16:47
  • @kbelder and anybody else: Would you mind if I ask how you calculated 32% of cumulative CO2? I cannot seem to replicate that. Thanks for the help! – Barry Harrison May 1 at 23:51

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