We conduct our business in a manner that is responsive to the environmental and economic needs of the communities in which we operate. ExxonMobil considers risks at every stage of development, and we continuously work to mitigate those risks and improve our environmental performance.
We employ an environmental management strategy to monitor our performance in five key areas: 1) Biodiversity and ecosystem services, 2) water management, 3) spill performance, 4) air emissions and 5) decommissioning and rehabilitation.
Our approach requires our facilities to be designed, operated and managed with the goal of mitigating adverse environmental impacts.
In accordance with regulatory requirements and our commitment to maintaining operational excellence, we work to reduce air emissions associated with our operations and the products we deliver. ExxonMobil’s combined emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) have decreased by almost 40 percent over the past 10 years across all of our businesses. In 2016, our combined emissions totaled less than 0.4 million metric tons.
Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Biodiversity refers to the number and variety of living organisms in a given area. Ecosystem services are the food, water, shelter, clean air and cultural identity that people obtain from the environment. Safeguarding the ability of the environment to support biodiversity and provide ecosystem services is a priority for ExxonMobil.
Our approach to managing biodiversity and ecosystem services recognizes several factors, including the rarity of individual species, their roles in different ecosystems and habitats, their vulnerabilities and their cultural significance. To protect particular species and sensitive habitats, we take steps such as modifying engineering design, construction and operating practices, and enhancing wildlife habitats at our properties.
ExxonMobil closely examines the environmental context of the areas where we operate to identify biodiversity and ecosystem services risks and appropriate protective measures. We also periodically screen the locations of our major operating facilities against databases of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and World Protected Areas. In 2016, an estimated 25 percent of our major operating facilities were within 5 kilometers of designated environmentally sensitive areas. By tracking these data, we are able to ensure prioritized areas receive special protection.
In addition to our commitment to protecting biodiversity in our operating areas, we support advocacy, research and partnerships to protect biodiversity outside our fence lines. In 2016, we contributed approximately $4 million to organizations, such as those focused on biodiversity protection and land conservation.
In 2016, the net freshwater consumption at our operations was 290 million cubic meters, a decrease of more than 3 percent from the 2015 consumption of 300 million cubic meters and a more than 9 percent decline since 2007. ExxonMobil works to manage our water use and to limit adverse impacts to water resources and consumers from our withdrawals and discharges, taking into consideration factors such as quality and availability.
For example, when the Banyu Urip, Indonesia, operations required increased injection water volumes to maintain adequate reservoir pressure, we developed a large reservoir to capture and store excess water available in the wet season that would have otherwise not been used. Using the reservoir helped mitigate potential effects of our water usage on the local population during the drier months when water resources are scarcer.
Using the latest version of the global oil and gas industry association for environmental and social issues (IPIECA) global water tool, we identified that almost 35 percent of our major operating sites are located in areas with the potential for water scarcity. We pursue opportunities to reduce our water use and develop site-specific management strategies such as the deployment of water conservation technologies, the use of alternative freshwater sources, recycling of municipal and industrial wastewater, substitution with lower-quality water sources and harvesting of rainwater.