We are an industry leader in reducing emissions from refinery flares. As part of the EPA’s refinery flare enforcement initiative, we collaborated with the EPA to define a series of operating parameters that ensure flares continuously operate above 98 percent combustion efficiency. We were the first company to produce and publish the results of our own flare performance tests, setting the standard for the use of new measurement techniques and technologies to characterize and reduce emissions from industrial flares. Subsequently, we entered into an agreement with the EPA to reduce flaring emissions at our refineries.
Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions
We have reduced our greenhouse gas intensity significantly since 2002 through energy efficiency measures and the diversification of our portfolio. Specifically, our Focus on Energy initiative has enabled our refining capacity to increase by approximately 480,000 barrels per day, equivalent to the sixth-largest refinery in the U.S. without significantly increasing GHG emissions. In addition, our natural gas processing and fractionation facilities have lowered our company-wide greenhouse gas intensity since acquisition in late 2015. Overall, our energy efficiency efforts have enabled us to avoid emitting millions of tons of GHGs per year.
This is an extraordinary accomplishment and demonstrates the effectiveness energy optimization and efficiency improvements have on reducing GHG emissions. For more information on GHG emissions and our analyses regarding Climate-Related Risks and Opportunities, please review our publication Perspectives on Climate-Related Scenarios: Risks And Opportunities (October 2018).
Perspectives on Climate-Related Scenarios - (PDF 1.4 MB)
Criteria Pollutant Emissions
MPC works to reduce criteria pollutant emissions aided by the energy efficiency and flare reduction programs described previously. The success of these efforts is demonstrated in the graphs below. Just one example is at our Galveston Bay refinery, where we are replacing existing heaters with new ones equipped with state-of-the-art emissions controls. By investing in new heaters, we expect to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by over 370 tons per year.
From 2002 to 2017, we have reduced our criteria pollutant emissions per common barrel of throughput by roughly 70 percent. Such improvements in emissions intensity are not achieved without significant expense. We have invested over $700 million to achieve these dramatic results. We are also making ongoing improvements within our gathering and processing operations designed to further reduce fugitive emissions.
We strive to achieve zero spills of crude oil, petroleum products or other materials. We take many precautionary measures to prevent spills such as:
When a spill does occur, we mobilize well-trained emergency responders to mitigate and remediate any health, safety or environmental impacts. Each spill is investigated to identify the root cause and appropriate corrective actions to minimize the risk of a recurrence. We also use environmental metrics for spills to continually measure our performance and identify opportunities for improvement. We conduct annual drills and training exercises at both the facility and corporate level to ensure emergency-response preparedness.
Wastes and Residual Materials
We maintain programs to reduce the volumes of hazardous and non-hazardous materials we generate. We recycle or reclaim materials whenever possible. Our facilities develop programs for waste minimization, recycling, reuse and reclamation based on their specific needs. We collect and analyze waste management data from all our business units to identify and prioritize opportunities for waste minimization.