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New Study Finds U.S. Oil Production Has Outsized Role to Play in Reducing Global Emissions

The United States is the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer, delivering affordable, reliable power to households and businesses around the world. According to a new report from the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), the U.S. oil industry also has a significant carbon advantage compared to foreign producers.

>>>READ: Fueling a Better Future

In the study titled the GHG Emission Intensity of Crude Oil and Condensate Production, conducted by research firm ICF, researchers have found that U.S. oil production, specifically that in the Gulf of Mexico, has a significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions profile than oil from other leading producers. Specifically, the study found that American oil has a carbon footprint that is 23 percent lower than oil produced around the world. 

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The carbon intensity of oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico specifically is 46 percent lower than the global average. In terms of kilograms of CO2 per barrel of oil, the U.S. Gulf had a per-barrel carbon footprint that was more than twice as small as Russia’s and more than five times smaller than Venezuela’s. The study also found that if crude oil from the Gulf of Mexico were to displace crude production outside of the U.S. and Canada, global emissions could drop by 50 percent. 

The release of this study comes at an especially important time in the energy debate. Since his first day in office, President Biden has fought to restrict domestic oil and gas production, while empowering adversaries such as OPEC and Venezuela to pump more oil. This strategy is not only harmful to the economy but to the environment as well. Fossil fuels provide around 80 percent of the world’s energy needs, a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future as countries climb the economic ladder. Halting domestic oil and gas production will not curb global demand for fossil energy. Instead, it will shift production overseas to countries with fewer environmental regulations.  

The NOIA study is not the first to highlight American energy’s comparative environmental advantage. Last year a report from the Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions found the EU could reduce global emissions by 72 million metric tonnes annually by replacing Russian natural gas with U.S. natural gas. For context, the EU estimates that it must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 78 million tonnes each year to reach its 2050 climate goals. 

>>>READ: The G7 Should Consider a Holistic Energy Approach to Meet Global Needs

The IFC study also provided a sensitivity analysis of global methane emissions. It indicates that U.S. oil production is performing better than most countries based on their methane emissions intensity. With different measurement methodologies for emissions intensity, the total U.S. Gulf of Mexico average of GHG emissions per oil barrel is 13.4 CO2e kg/bbl below the global average.

As NOIA President Erik Milito said, “The world needs both climate solutions and a growing amount of energy, and we don’t have to choose between the two … The Gulf of Mexico produces a massive amount of energy with a remarkably small footprint, and its continued success is critical for our energy security, national security, and energy affordability.”

The world is going to need oil and other forms of reliable energy for the foreseeable future. The NOIA study shows that American energy producers are setting the gold standard when it comes to supplying energy to the world with a smaller environmental footprint. As the international community looks to reduce emissions, American oil should have a valuable role to play. 

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of C3.

Copyright © 2020 Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions

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