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These four oil and gas companies emit the most greenhouse gasses in the US, report claims

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Four companies top the list of both greenhouse gas emissions and methane emissions specifically when it comes to oil and gas producers in the US, a new report claims.

The companies — ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Hilcorp and Occidental — produce oil and natural gas, two fossil fuels whose extraction and use can release planet-warming gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane.

In 2020, each of these companies were individually responsible for emitting the equivalent of at least 2.9 million metric tonnes of CO2, the report claims — the same as the energy use in over 365,000 US homes per year, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Data focused on emissions in 2020. The report was published by the Clean Air Task Force and Ceres, two non-profits.

The leader in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per the report was Hilcorp, with the equivalent of over 5.9 million metric tonnes of CO2 emitted — the same warming potential as more than 1.2 million gas cars per year in the United States, per EPA.

ExxonMobil, one of the world’s biggest companies, came in second with the equivalent of 3.9 million metric tons of CO2 — and ConocoPhillips and Occidental rounded out the top four with 3.3 million and 2.9 million, respectively, the report claims.

Many of those emissions came in the form of methane — which has a much more potent impact on the planet than CO2. Hilcorp was the leading emitter of methane, with 136,708 metric tonnes emitted, the report claims.

ExxonMobil was also second in methane emissions, with 73,642 metric tonnes — with Occidental at 50,372 metric tonnes and ConocoPhillips at 47,480 metric tonnes, the report claims.

In addition to looking at total emissions, the report tracked the “intensity” of GHG emissions from production — how many emissions each company is producing per unit of fossil fuel extraction.

Emissions intensity can differ due to things like what equipment and processes each company is using to extract the fossil fuels, the report publishers say in a press release. While the four companies above produced the most GHG emissions potential overall, they weren’t the top four when it came to intensity, the report claims.

“Hilcorp is a leader in taking over late in life oil and gas properties, reducing their emissions, maintaining the production, and then responsibly decommissioning wells and facilities that are beyond their productive life,” a spokesperson for Hilcorp said, in a statement emailed to The Independent.

“Our investment has decreased emissions intensity by approximately 37% from 2019 to 2020 and we continue to make significant improvements across our unique asset base,” they added.

A spokesperson for ConocoPhillips told The Independent via email that “reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, is a priority for ConocoPhillips. In 2020, we adopted a Paris-aligned climate-related risk framework with an ambition to reduce our operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to net-zero by 2050.”

They also noted that the company ranked lower on emissions intensity than overall emissions.

“We believe intensity is the best way to measure progress toward the goals of the Paris Agreement, because it is the truest reflection of how manufacturing companies are reducing greenhouse gases associated with each unit of production” Casey Norton from ExxonMobil told The Independent via email.

He added that due to various methods implemented, “ExxonMobil has reduced methane emissions across our U.S. unconventional operations by approximately 40% as of year-end 2020 compared to 2016, which equates to about 1.7 million metric tons of COâ‚‚ equivalent.”

Jennifer Brice, a spokesperson for Occidental, told The Independent via email that they are reviewing the data presented in this report, and that they “continuously seek improvement in resource recovery, conservation, pollution prevention, detection and energy efficiency, including ongoing efforts to manage and capture methane and other greenhouse gas emissions.”

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