Zeringue Wannamaker

Power from garbage and other innovations are helping cut energy use and emissions

A Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing today featured executives from several companies who have made investments in their operations to reduce energy use and emissions.

It’s no surprise that such investments not only help protect the environment, but also help a company’s bottom line. At a company like ExxonMobil, with large and complex operations around the world, the benefits of such investments are significant – saving energy, emissions and costs.

So I thought I’d share a few examples of our successful projects around the globe.

In 2011, ExxonMobil invested about $440 million dollars to improve energy efficiency, reduce flaring and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across our global operations.

Part of this investment has been carried out through our Global Energy Management System, which we have used for more than a decade in our refining and chemical business lines to identify and take advantage of energy-saving opportunities. We set a goal of improving energy efficiency in those operations by 10 percent from 2002 to 2012, and we’re on track to hit that target.

One of our most innovative projects designed to provide power while reducing emissions is taking place in East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana. There, we’re tapping a municipal landfill to help power operations at our polyolefins plant.

The decomposing waste in the landfill releases a gas composed of methane and carbon dioxide. After two years of research and development and $1.8 million in facility upgrades, we’re now treating and transporting the landfill gas about four miles to our plant to help fuel boilers that power our operations.

The project eliminated the flaring of landfill gas and generated a new revenue source for the city of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish – not to mention the fact that using this gas as an energy source is equivalent to removing 59,000 cars from the road.

We’re also developing other innovative ways to generate power more efficiently and with less environmental impact. Many of our sites use cogeneration, the simultaneous production of electricity and heat or steam that can be used for industrial purposes. ExxonMobil has interests in more than 5,000 megawatts of cogeneration capacity globally, which is enough to supply electricity to more than 2 million average U.S. homes each year.

For example, we’re using cogeneration at our Kearl oil sands project in Canada, which will start production later this year. Kearl will have a cogeneration facility that we estimate will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by half a million metric tons per year for the first phase of the project compared to purchasing the equivalent amount of power from external providers.

We’re also expanding our cogeneration capacity at our integrated refinery and chemical complex in Singapore. There, we have achieved a 16 percentage-point reduction in energy intensity since 2002. A special group at the site – dubbed the Energy Special Emphasis Team – has planned and executed projects that have resulted in savings of approximately $4.5 million in 2011.

These are just a few of the projects we’re working on to improve energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save money across our global operations. You can learn more about our efforts at our website.


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  1. Richard Baty says:

    Exxon/Mobil should be trying to work with Plasma Torch Technology (A Westinghouse Process) — it should become very usefull in reducing landfills -creates no harmfull emissions — creates by products that can be re-cycled – and can destroy just about anything you would like to make disappear.

  2. James Kellogg says:

    Interesting to learn about these projects to improve energy efficiency. One underutilized source of energy in the American West is wood biomass, especially in the vast forest tracts of beetle-killed timber. The federal government is the biggest obstacle to responsible utilization of this natural energy source. I strongly believe this is an area where entrepreneurs and energy companies can work together to change government policy. Here’s an article on the topic http://liberteawatch.com/2012/02/07/national-forests-hold-the-promise-of-green-energy/

  3. Richard Baty says:

    Exxon/Mobil should be trying to work with Plasma Torch Technology (A Westinghouse Process) — it should become very usefull in reducing landfills -creates no harmfull emissions — creates by products that can be re-cycled – and can destroy just about anything you would like to make disappear.

  4. James Kellogg says:

    Interesting to learn about these projects to improve energy efficiency. One underutilized source of energy in the American West is wood biomass, especially in the vast forest tracts of beetle-killed timber. The federal government is the biggest obstacle to responsible utilization of this natural energy source. I strongly believe this is an area where entrepreneurs and energy companies can work together to change government policy. Here’s an article on the topic http://liberteawatch.com/2012/02/07/national-forests-hold-the-promise-of-green-energy/