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Marathon Petroleum Corp. Outlines GHG Reduction Strategy

More oil companies have come under fire for failing to quell greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Many are taking steps to do something about it, with companies like ExxonMobil releasing plans for substantial carbon sequestration and a resource hub for carbon capture technology. Now, Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) is implementing a plan to combat Scope emissions.

MPC plans to reduce GHGs through a network of energy efficiency measures and portfolio diversification. The goal will be to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 30% by 2030. According to the company’s Sustainability Report 2021, it has reduced its “companywide Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions intensity” by 23% since 2014. 

MPC aims to cut Scope 3 emissions by 15% below 2019 levels by 2030, with the company reaching an 11% reduction since 2019. To achieve this, it cut crude oil production at three refineries, one of which was converted to renewable diesel production. 

Scope emissions are created from business operations and the wider value chain. Scope 1 relates to those from sources that a firm owns or directly controls. An example of this would be fleet vehicles. Scope 2 describes those a business causes indirectly from energy purchases and usage. A company doesn’t create Scope 3 emissions, and they aren’t from controlled assets but from indirect parties like consumers.

Photo Courtesy Zhao Chen

Scope 3 is MPC’s main focus since it is the hardest to sequester. In June 2022, a corporate energy report was published outlining how the company was strengthening its assets for reduced emissions output. Closing the crude oil plants saved up to 30 million tons of GHGs across all three Scopes annually. The report includes how these maneuvers will impact carbon sequestration goals. 

“We operate with an understanding of the potential environmental impacts of our business,” the company stated in the sustainability report. “This understanding informs our commitment to lower the carbon intensity of our operations and the products we manufacture, improve the energy efficiency of our operations, and advance practices that conserve natural resources.”

MPC’s 2021 sustainability report revealed the oil producer has delivered around 2.4 billion gallons of renewable fuels to consumers and produced 400 million gallons of these cleaner fuels in 2021 alone. That sequestered the equivalent of 10 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) transportation emissions per year. 

More funding will be allocated to renewable energy production with the goal of lower carbon intensity. The Martinez, CA, plant was converted to a renewable fuel facility to produce around 730 million gallons of clean fuels by the end of 2023. The conversion is expected to lower the plant’s GHG emissions by 60% and save 1 billion gallons of water annually. 

MPC also outlined significant waste reduction plans in its sustainability report. It captured more than 103,000 tons of waste from refineries in 2021, converting them into alternative fuel sources for the cement industry. MPC has implemented this practice since 2013, preventing more than 248,000 tons of CO2 and similar emissions from entering the atmosphere. 

Water is another area where MPC is focused. Since petroleum refining is a water-intensive industry, freshwater withdrawal from water-stressed regions ended. The company has a 9-point plan to monitor and manage its use. The sustainability report noted 77% of the company’s freshwater comes from non-water-stressed areas. 

Photo Courtesy Marathon Petroleum

The refineries are designed to use as little water as possible, with many having opted to reuse water in some capacity. Water intensity has gone down by 15% from 2016 levels. The goal is to get that level to more than 20% by 2030.

MPC has reported some solid carbon sequestration numbers in the past two decades. Between 2002 and 2021, 54% of “criteria pollutant emissions” have been reduced.

New imaging and sensor technology have led to fewer gas flare-ups and fewer fugitive emissions escaping into the atmosphere. 

Finally, there are multiple guidelines on how the energy firm plans to protect wildlife areas, promote biodiversity, and avoid oil spills. Airplanes with special tech fly around remote refineries to detect hydrocarbon spills. Cameras and artificial intelligence in 45 other facilities also play a role in stopping hazards. 

“Our commitment to safely and responsibly operating our assets is critical and fundamental to our business and to protecting our employees, contractors, communities, and the environment,” MPC said in its report. “We support this commitment through operational practices and technology focused on a goal of zero spills.”   


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