Marathon Oil is a publicly listed upstream oil and gas company headquartered in the USA. In 2020, it had USD 3.09 billion in revenue and a reported 2,000 employees*. The company undertakes exploration and production operations in the USA and Equatorial Guinea. Marathon Oil plans to continue its oil and gas operations and become a low-cost producer, with increased focus on gas.
Marathon Oil is the only company assessed to publicly commit to a scope 1 and 2 emissions intensity reduction target fully aligned with its 1.5°C pathway, involving a 50% reduction from 2019 to 2025. However, this target is not long-term enough and the company is not currently on track to achieve it. The company should set a long-term target, with intermediate targets at five-year intervals, to hold management to account for continuous emissions intensity improvements. Furthermore, the company should expand its targets to cover scope 3 emissions, as these constitute a major source of the company’s emissions.
The total scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions intensity of Marathon Oil’s sold products has increased between 2014 and 2019. The company needs to turn this trend around with a near 4% emissions intensity reduction every year to align with its 1.5°C pathway. This requires either huge advances in permanent carbon capture and storage (CCS), to compensate for the combustion emissions released when the company’s products are used, or a rapid increase in the share of revenue from low-carbon products. However, the company shares no detailed information on plans for such technology or product changes.
There is significant opportunity for the emissions intensity of the company’s extractions activities to be improved. There have been gas capture and infrastructure challenges, related to third party services, at its North Dakota Bakken facilities and additional compression and flaring at its Eagle Ford facilities. The company plans to eliminate high-bleed pneumatic controllers from operations, implement the use of emission-free controllers and pumps, use ultra-high efficiency flares and improve leak detection. It needs to be reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions by nearly 10% per year to bring it into alignment with its 1.5°C pathway.
Marathon Oil receives a trend score of -. If the company were reassessed in the future, its score would likely decrease. The company has only set itself short-term emissions intensity reduction targets to cover scope 1 and 2 emissions. The company’s low-carbon transition plan is focused on methane reductions. It has no plans to reduce the absolute volume of oil and gas being produced or to include low- or zero-carbon products in its sold product portfolio.
Marathon Oil plans to continue its oil and gas operations, with increased focus on gas. It plans to turn around its recent scope 1 and 2 emissions intensity increases to reduce emissions by 50% between 2019 and 2025. The company plans to position itself as a low-cost producer. No evidence was found to indicate that the company plans to expand its sold product portfolio to include low- or zero-carbon products.
Marathon Oil plans to achieve emissions reductions, primarily methane reduction through operational efficiencies. It also seeks to reduce flaring and maximise gas capture by aligning midstream partner infrastructure development with well construction. It has financial incentives for emissions reductions. Financial details on the company’s capital expenditure (CapEx) or research and development (R&D) plans for low-carbon and carbon removal technologies could not be found.
Marathon Oil’s immediate focus is to reduce flaring and enhance gas capture performance. It is eliminating high-bleed pneumatic controllers from all operations, implementing the use of emission-free controllers and pumps and using ultra-high efficiency flares. It is also installing vapor recovery towers (VRT) and vapor recovery units (VRU). The company is expanding the use of an automated field service management system across its assets, and is creating a Gas Mega Hub in the Gulf of Guinea. It is evaluating CCS and emissions offsetting programmes.
Marathon Oil reports that it has transformed from an integrated oil and gas company to an independent exploration and production company and shifted its emphasis from global, conventional production to US unconventional resource plays. However, the company is currently on an upward emissions intensity trajectory. It reports an increase in emissions intensity from around 18 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per thousand barrels of oil (tC02e/mboe) in 2016 to nearly 31 tCO2e/mboe in 2019 for the facilities it operates.
Marathon Oil’s plans are consistent with its commitment to become a low-cost oil and gas producer. Its plans to reduce methane leakage and flaring are as much about increasing gas capture as they are about reducing emissions. The company’s plans are not consistent with transitioning to an energy company operating within a 1.5°C scenario.