For each new major capital project or development activity, issues related to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions quantification, reporting, and controls seem to gain a greater amount of attention and scrutiny. Being prepared for and addressing this scrutiny in a robust manner can help ensure project timelines are met, add value by accelerating product delivery to market, and minimize the potential for adverse public perception of a project or the sponsoring company.

Navigating the current landscape of GHG issues is not a small challenge. The evolving environment of scientific, socioeconomic, political, and media inputs to regulatory development is resulting in a patchwork of mandatory and voluntary programs and legal requirements.

From the investor perspective, there is an increasing prevalence of shareholder proxy votes that are calling for increased transparency on environmental issues, specifically issues related to GHG emissions. During the development of major capital projects, environmental non-governmental organizations are using permit challenges as a means to delay major projects to which they are opposed. From a regulatory perspective, the challenges range from reliably and accurately accounting for emissions where required, to preparing for emerging legislation. In particular, the move towards low carbon fuel standards (LCFS) must be watched closely. If implemented, such standards would have a significant impact on the oil and gas industry—at a minimum by increasing compliance obligations, but potentially leading to new crude valuation issues or a “crude source differentiation” trend.

This paper describes how an array of tools can be used as part of a comprehensive approach to project planning. Such an approach is critical to confidently managing the landscape, which continues to shift for GHG management. Key elements of planning include (1) identifying options (technology or operating practices) to reduce emissions, (2) assessing energy flows (source and sinks) to further identify areas for improvement, and (3) establishing a framework for prioritizing the identified GHG mitigation options.

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