​Shell's keeper oilsands CCS project helps reduce company's global emissions to lowest since 2009

Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden (left) joined Tim Wiwchar, the company's oilsands portfolio manager, at the Quest CCS project opening in fall 2015. Image: Shell

Royal Dutch Shell is reporting a reduction in its global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2016, the third year in a row of dropping numbers.

In its 2016 Sustainability Report, released this week, Shell says its direct total GHGs were 70 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2016, down from 72 million tonnes in 2015 and 76 million tonnes in 2014.

The 2016 figure is the lowest for the company since 2009, when it reported emissions of 69 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. The highest year in the 10-year report period was 2007, when Shell had 82 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent GHGs.

The company attributes the reductions in 2016 in part to the Quest carbon capture and storage project at the Scotford Upgrader near Edmonton, the only CCS project to capture volumes from oilsands production.

In September 2016 the project marked the milestone of injecting more than one million tonnes of CO2 in its first year of operations.

Despite having sold the majority of its oilsands assets to Canadian Natural Resources earlier this year, Shell has retained 10 percent ownership of the Athabasca Oil Sands Project, including operatorship of the Scotford upgrader and the Quest project.

"Shell believes that society will need effective carbon pricing mechanisms and CCS to achieve its climate goals. The good news is that Canada is showing leadership in both," the company states on its website.

Shell also says that overall reduced flaring levels, divestments (such as in Nigeria and the UK), and operational improvements across many facilities contributed to its lower GHGs in 2016.

“These decreases were partially offset by the inclusion of emissions from former BG facilities in our inventory as of February 1, 2016, the company says.

“In 2016, around 45 percent of our GHG emissions came from the refineries and chemical plants in our downstream business. The production of oil, gas and gas-to-liquids products accounted for slightly more than 50 percent of our GHG emissions, and our shipping activities for less than 2 per cent. We continue to work on improving operational performance and energy efficiency to manage GHG emissions.”

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