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Environmental performance

ExxonMobil is committed to operating in an environmentally responsible manner while providing the energy needed to power the world’s progress. ExxonMobil’s Corporate Environment Policy and Protect Tomorrow. Today. expectations serve as the foundation of our efforts, which are guided by a scientific  understanding of the environmental impact of our operations as well as the social and economic needs of the communities in which we operate.

As we manage our operations, we must understand the impact of our business on the environment, adhere to a consistent risk management approach and maintain a relentless focus on operational excellence. We integrate stakeholder feedback, scientific understanding and other due diligence into these processes to ensure we operate in a safe, respectful and environmentally protective manner.

Protect Tomorrow. Today. is a set of corporate-wide environmental performance expectations. These expectations build upon the existing Corporate Environment Policy, which is incorporated in ExxonMobil’s Standards of Business Conduct, and based on the following principles:

  • Delivery of superior environmental performance, leading to a competitive advantage;
  • Driving environmental incidents with real impact to zero, through a process of continuous improvement; and
  • Achieving industry leadership in focus areas valuable to the business.

Protecting biodiversity

As part of the expectations of Protect Tomorrow. Today., ExxonMobil strives to be a leader in safeguarding the ability of the environment to provide ecosystem services — the direct and indirect benefits people obtain from the environment, such as food, water, shelter, clean air and cultural identity. Our approach to managing biodiversity and ecosystem services recognizes factors such as the rarity of individual species, their roles in different ecosystems and habitats, their vulnerabilities and their cultural significance.

We plan our activities based on a scientific understanding of the biodiversity in our areas of operation. As part of our commitment to operating in an environmentally responsible manner, we conduct research and support initiatives to help improve biodiversity management. In 2015, we contributed approximately US $4 million to organizations focused on biodiversity protection and land conservation.

Water management

Water and energy are interrelated. Water is essential for providing energy and energy is needed to deliver clean water to people. This connection, or nexus, between energy and water highlights the importance of these resources for society and the environment. As such, we work to prevent adverse impacts to water resources from our withdrawals and discharges and prudently manage the water we do use. In 2015, the net freshwater consumption at our operations was 300 million cubic meters, representing more than a 5 per cent decline since 2007, in part due to the development and implementation of local water management strategies.

Wastewater management

ExxonMobil responsibly manages process wastewater and produced water from our operations, and we proactively look for opportunities to address any potential water quality issues. For our Upstream projects, our Water Management Standard outlines minimum expected environmental performance and mitigation measures. This Standard establishes the planning and design basis for reducing impacts to surface waters, groundwaters, estuarine and marine waters as well as to the associated habitats and users, from a use or consumption viewpoint as well as with regard to discharge quality.

Spill performance

We implement preventive measures to avoid spills and continually seek to improve our risk management, operations integrity and containment capabilities. As a result of these efforts, we had fewer spills in 2015 compared with 2014. Over the past five years, we have reduced the number of spills greater than 1 barrel by more than 30 per cent. We have the industry’s only dedicated, in-house oil spill response research program, which includes a focus on cold water and remote locations, such as the Arctic. 

Significant spills to the environment
Chart — In 2012, ExxonMobil began measuring significant spills to the environment (SSEs), the number of spills of any fluid type that warrant greater focus. In 2015, we had 11 SSEs, more than a 40 percent decrease from 2014.

Air emissions

We seek opportunities to reduce the air emissions associated with our operations and the products we deliver to increase shareholder value and meet regulatory requirements. As a result of these efforts, ExxonMobil’s combined emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) have decreased more than 45 per cent over the past 10 years across all of our businesses.

In January 2015, the International Maritime Organization reduced the cap on the sulfur content in marine vessel fuels from 1.0 to 0.1 percent by mass for all ships operating in emission control areas (ECA). This action has reshaped the shipping landscape, particularly in Europe and North America, spurring new demand for fuels that help marine operators comply with the cap. In response, we introduced ExxonMobil Premium Heavy Distillate Marine 50, an ECA-compliant premium fuel that combines the low sulfur content of lighter marine oils with the lower volatility typically associated with heavy fuel oils.

Air emissions
Chart — In 2015, the combined SO2, NOx and VOC emissions from our operations totaled 0.39 million metric tons, representing a slight decrease from 2014.


Throughout the Upstream asset life cycle — from exploration to decommissioning — care is taken to limit disruptions to local communities and protect the environment. Accordingly, ExxonMobil ensures that decommissioning activities are planned and conducted to appropriately manage risks. For our fixed manufacturing assets, the same care is taken. For example, in 2015, we completed decommissioning a steam cracker at our Fawley refinery in the United Kingdom, the largest demolition project ExxonMobil has carried out in Europe.

  • Rob Tabard

    Project manager, Fawley demolition
    “It really is the end of an era. I hope this project can stand as an example to the petrochemical industry of how the demolition of large-scale units can be achieved in a safe and controlled manner.”

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