Innovating to reduce the environmental footprint of our installations
Reducing our environmental footprint is at the very heart of our corporate strategy. We continually search for ways to reduce the impact of our industrial activities. Since 2010, we have succeeded in lowering our greenhouse gas emissions by 19% within our areas of operation. We are continuing our efforts by focusing on two major strategies: reducing routine flaring and improving the energy efficiency of our installations.
Utilizing associated gas helps Total reduce flaring at its installations. It also eliminated continuous flaring entirely at the Ofon field.
View of Moho Nord, Congo. The energy efficiency of this project is being improved continually, with zero routine flaring projected at its startup in Spring 2017.
View of Ofon 2, Nigeria. By upgrading installations at the Ofon field, continuous flaring of associated gas ceased in December 2014.
Anita George, Senior Director of the World Bank Group’s Global Practice on Energy and Extractive Industries, addresses the challenges of the World Bank's Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative and Total's involvement.
Reducing and eliminating routine flaring
All hydrocarbon exploitation activities generate CO2 emissions. One particular byproduct of crude oil production is associated gas, the flaring of which generates large amounts of greenhouse gases. In 2014, Total joined the World Bank's initiative to eliminate continuous flaring of associated gases by 2030, part of our commitment to the environment. Between 2005 and 2015, Total reduced routine flaring (excluding startup) by more than 50%, significantly reducing the greenhouse gases emitted by our installations. We are committed to lowering emissions by 80% between 2010 and 2020.
Since 2000, we have completely eliminated routine flaring in new projects. And our teams are going one step further by upgrading old installations to be able to reuse associated gas. This was the case at the Ofon gas field off the coast of Nigeria, where improvements to our installations allowed continuous flaring of associated gas to be halted completely in December 2014.1 The gas is now reused in three different ways: to help improve the oil recovery rate of deposits, to fuel electrical generators in our production infrastructure, and, by being transported to the Bonny liquefying plant, to meet the needs of consumer countries.
Constantly striving for better energy efficiency
Energy efficiency is a simple idea in theory but difficult to put into practice. It requires us to improve the output of our industrial equipment while consuming less energy at the same time. At Total, our efficiency has increased by more than 6% since 2010. To maintain this momentum, in early 2016 we set a goal of improving the energy efficiency of our installations by an average of 1% each year until 2020.
To achieve such ambitious goals in an ever more challenging business and operational environment, we must combine innovation with size. Off the coast of Norway, in the North Sea, we have been developing the Martin Linge oil and gas field since 2012. In the course of this project, we invented a new way of designing safer, more environmentally friendly platforms. These installations operate entirely on electricity and are powered from the mainland by a 160 km cable, forming the world's longest underwater transfer of high-voltage alternating current. This approach frees us from the use of electrical generators at sea, leading to a reduction in CO2 emissions on the order of 2 million metric tons.
Investments and innovation to take the next leap
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), technology to capture, utilize, and sequester CO2 emissions (CCUS) will play a vital role in achieving carbon neutrality in the latter half of this century. Total has joined the commitment to develop such processes, as was demonstrated by its Lacq pilot project in southwest France, conducted from 2010 to 2013. In addition, in every project we seek out opportunities to re-inject the CO2 found in deposits to improve hydrocarbon recovery.
Today, Total is redoubling its efforts regarding both its own emissions and emissions from other industries (including electricity production, cement plants, and steelworks). This R&D strategy takes two paths: helping to improve and reduce the cost of existing technology to take fast, concrete action, and resuming research well upstream of emissions to find new, innovative solutions with a limited carbon footprint.
More broadly speaking, we have decided to dedicate 25% of our R&D investment (USD 5.3 billion by 2022) to cleantech and environmental issues and have begun collaborating with our counterparts at the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative.
1 This has prevented the flaring of 1,000,000 cubic meters of gas per day (m3/d) under normal operating conditions, representing a 10% reduction in the volume of gas flared compared to our exploration/production activities.