Climate Change: Lightening emission-reduction pathways
The path of reducing emissions requires not one, but many diverse efforts.
The world faces an incredible climate challenge.
We are not navigating one simple path to a lower carbon footprint. Instead, our journey to a horizon with a lighter global footprint is traveling many routes.
At Aramco, driving some of the emission reduction pathways is conventional wisdom, like not being wasteful, or assiduously looking after things.
Maintenance of industrial infrastructure has always been important at Aramco.
Our diligent upkeep of our pipelines, vessels, and tanks prevents fugitive greenhouse gases leaking into the atmosphere.
Using less is better
Not wasting power is a top mitigation action listed by the International Energy Agency.
We can be proud that Aramco commenced its energy efficiency program 20 years ago.
Prudent use of resources and wise infrastructure investment are some of the reasons why Aramco’s critical numbers are among the lowest in the industry.
Technology is accelerating newer decarbonization paths.
Aramco’s exciting research into alternative low carbon energy fuels, such as hydrogen, hold potential to deliver energy system benefits of oil and gas without net carbon emissions.
Technology will enable car manufacturers to reduce carbon emissions, and we are researching highly efficient internal combustion engines and ultra clean fuels.
Nature knows best
Equally as critical is balancing humanity’s existence with nature.
Superior wisdom about protecting and restoring our planet often comes from nature itself.
Nature-based solutions offer inspirational answers, such as reforestation, which is why Aramco has planted more than 4 million mangrove trees on the Kingdom’s shores.
2019 Annual Report greenhouse gas numbers
Aramco — a company with oil and gas running in its DNA for generations — reported that its audited total (scope 1 and scope 2) greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2019.
Aramco follows widely accepted international guidelines for scope 1 and 2 emissions reporting, which includes carbon dioxide and methane.
Environmental engineering supervisor, Khalid A. Binali, says Aramco continually examines its intricate manufacturing chain of getting oil and gas out of the ground, and onword to customers, to identify ways to further reduce its environmental footprint.
“We reduce methane leaks to the atmosphere, eliminate routine flaring, and integrate renewables and low carbon electricity into existing and new projects,” Binali added.
Energy supports modern life, and as the world travels on its energy transition, the oil and gas sector is part of the solution.
More than a job
A world leading producer of some of the planet’s least carbon-intense crude oil, Aramco has talented scientists, researchers, and operational specialists on its team.
Five team members discuss oil and gas actions actively supporting the planet’s transition toward decarbonization.
Containment a win-win
Working hand-in-hand with the production of crude oil and gas is managing the emissions of greenhouse gases.
For the oil and gas industry, locking down fugitive gases is an important climate change action — and a win-win for the environment and business.
More containment equals more useful product; less emissions means less gases released into our planet’s atmosphere.
“The faster and more accurately we can identify leaks, the better we mitigate emissions,” says operations engineer Abdulaziz M. Dossary, while reviewing Aramco’s leak detection and repair program at one of the company’s operating facilities.
The University of Colorado Boulder environmental engineering graduate says methane has a far greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is also a valuable commodity for the energy transition.
“Natural gas has a significant potential toward a lower carbon energy pathway, and it is mainly methane,” he said.
“Methane has a global warming potential of 28 when compared to carbon dioxide, so we need to keep it in the processing pipe to protect the environment, while addressing the climate challenges.”
Working toward tomorrow’s lighter possibilities
Chemical engineer Zainab S. Al-Ismail is one of Aramco’s scientists researching hydrogen as an emerging clean and affordable energy carrier.
The lightest and most abundant element in nature, hydrogen is a strong contender for reducing carbon emissions from various energy sectors.
“Hydrogen fuel can play a significant role toward decarbonizing the transportation sector,” said the Leeds University chemical engineering graduate.
“Hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles emit only water vapor through the exhaust pipe, offer fast refueling and a long driving range.”
Aramco has been test-driving a fleet of hydrogen vehicles since the 2019 inauguration of Saudi Arabia’s first hydrogen fueling station.
Al-Ismail describes her carbon management research as involving “palladium membrane synthesis and characterization for hydrogen separation in membrane reactors,” adding that she also works on “synthetic fuel formulation and characterization.”
“Considering hydrogen in the transportation sector along with the use of carbon capture, utilization and sequestration technologies can take us into the future with less carbon dioxide emissions,” says Al-Ismail.
Connecting to nature’s circle
For our carbon-constrained planet, investing in nature-based solutions is key toward preserving ecology.
“The risks are serious if the planet’s circle of life does not turn naturally,” says environmental scientist Hattan J. Balkhi.
An oceanography graduate from the University of Southampton, Balkhi works with teams using human and artificial eyes to keep an underwater watch on the Arabian Gulf.
“The Gulf has only one entry and exit point and it is imperative we take care of it,” said Balkhi. “By checking that our offshore activities are well within regulatory requirements, we minimize impacts on its biodiversity and shorelines.”
Balkhi says the Gulf is a critical ecosystem sustaining life in the Middle East, and Aramco’s efforts help protect it from impacts.
“We have deployed more than 3,200 permanent artificial reefs, and planted more than 4 million mangrove trees on the Arabian Gulf’s shorelines,” he said.
Smart energy savings
Energy efficiency is a quiet achiever — it diligently works in the background toward a cleaner energy world.
Engineer Sami A. Almutairi describes energy efficiency as “low cost with high impact.”
“Quite simply, efficient use of energy means less greenhouse gas emissions, and less expense,” says the KFUPM chemical engineering graduate.
Energy efficiency, ranked by the International Energy Agency as a top action toward mitigating climate change, also means lower water consumption; important for the Middle East’s thirsty climate.
Aramco has taken big strides to transform its industrial energy consumption into cogeneration technology, which involves capturing heat not being used by a facility, and converting it into useful energy.
Almutairi says energy efficiency is a big enabler of decarbonization.
“Through mutual understanding of energy efficiency’s importance toward mitigating climate change, we can work together toward better climate change solutions.”
Technology key to balanced energy transition
Nouf A. Aburas juggles the research findings into the energy transition.
Tough thinking goes into balancing the planet’s protection and restoration, while maintaining rights to energy.
The astute technology strategist weighs up viable options for a cleaner world, and says it is a mixture of accelerated energy solutions.
“Whether its energy from renewable or fossil fuels, all solutions are welcome if they will reduce energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, raise living standards for the disadvantaged, and maintain basic living standards for others,” said Aburas.
“A solution is not inclusive if people cannot pay for it.”
The civil engineering graduate from U.S. Northeastern University emphasizes technology is a key criticality, “Technology will enable delivery of decarbonized energy, and delivering net-zero energy affordably means all nations can contribute to a cleaner world.”
Aburas says oil lies behind modern health care, food, education, shelter, sanitation, and numerous privileges such as “smartphones, mattresses, safe malaria nets, and comfortable diapers.”
“We know the problem is emissions, not oil.
“We need to leverage decarbonizing options for oil instead of stranding it underground.”