Policy ForumEnergy and Climate

Global carbon intensity of crude oil production

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  31 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6405, pp. 851-853
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar6859

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Summary

Producing, transporting, and refining crude oil into fuels such as gasoline and diesel accounts for ∼15 to 40% of the “well-to-wheels” life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of transport fuels (1). Reducing emissions from petroleum production is of particular importance, as current transport fleets are almost entirely dependent on liquid petroleum products, and many uses of petroleum have limited prospects for near-term substitution (e.g., air travel). Better understanding of crude oil GHG emissions can help to quantify the benefits of alternative fuels and identify the most cost-effective opportunities for oil-sector emissions reductions (2). Yet, while regulations are beginning to address petroleum sector GHG emissions (35), and private investors are beginning to consider climate-related risk in oil investments (6), such efforts have generally struggled with methodological and data challenges. First, no single method exists for measuring the carbon intensity (CI) of oils. Second, there is a lack of comprehensive geographically rich datasets that would allow evaluation and monitoring of life-cycle emissions from oils. We have previously worked to address the first challenge by developing open-source oil-sector CI modeling tools [OPGEE (7, 8), supplementary materials (SM) 1.1]. Here, we address the second challenge by using these tools to model well-to-refinery CI of all major active oil fields globally—and to identify major drivers of these emissions.