How ExxonMobil influences the environment

As one of the leading petroleum and natural gas companies worldwide, ExxonMobil just has to influence our environment somehow. Because the firm produces energy, it is confronted with environmental risks every day. Therefore, managers are asked to adapt to an ethical handling with natural resources as well as an environment- friendly way of production. This includes being aware of current issues like the climate change and environmental pollution.

But how does ExxonMobil treat its influence on the environment?
And what do critics say about this behavior?
Fastexposure” will sniff it out!

How oil companies influence the environment

To produce energy, like oil in the case of ExxonMobil, the company uses natural raw oil resources. Special pumps pump the raw material to the surface of the earth before the oil is refined. Now you can consume the oil for heating your house or gas up your car.

The risk of producing oil consists in the transport; leaky pipelines and oxidizing oil tanks are dangerous and can lead to a spillage of oil in the oceans.
ExxonMobil already was responsible for such a disaster in January 2007. Indeed, this catastrophe didn´t occur during a shipping transport. However, the company´s technology and equipment were amiss; and the storage as well.
Therefore, oil and other toxic chemicals like lead, benzyl and kerosene percolate in the ground of Newtown Creek near New York, where Exxon´s former premises were allocated. Over decades, a stratum of poison spread out directly beneath a residential quarter. This is dangerous because this stratum is a health risk for the people living there! Therefore, ExxonMobil had to face lots of charges and began to abolish the damage.

Additionally, ExxonMobil was responsible for the leaving of methane in the North Sea in 1990.This happened in search of raw oil. But instead of boring oil, the drilling platform “High Seas Driller” encountered gas near Scotland. This “blowout” of methane causes the leaving of petroleum gas which consists in methane as well. Due to estimations, 1000 liters of gas escape every second.

Of course, ExxonMobil was found guilty and the company also paid huge sums to retrieve this damage.
But did Exxon learn its lesson?
Did they improve their safety measures?

What ExxonMobil says

Of course, ExxonMobil deals with environmental issues at least because of these disasters. Just have a look on their webpage Here you can see the category “safety and environment” which informs you about Exxon´s environmental performance. Therefore, they wrote that the company takes their environmental responsibilities very seriously and that they want to be “ever-vigilant“with regard to the safety of the nature.

To achieve this goal, ExxonMobil developed its own environmental policy.

“It is our policy to conduct our business in a manner that is compatible with the balanced environmental and economic needs of the communities in which we operate. We are committed to continuous efforts to improve environmental performance throughout our operations worldwide.“

This policy includes rules like

  • Stick to all common environmental laws and regulations
  • Apply own responsible guidelines, if a law does not exist yet
  • Work together with government and other concerns to improve environmental laws
  • Make sure that the company´s employees and production procedures comply with these laws
  • Avoid incidents and wastage
  • If an incident will occur: respond fast and efficiently

To prevent the most dangerous incident, ExxonMobil developed guidelines with regard to spill performance.

Due to Exxon, the transportation of oil by marine vessels succeeded without any spill to water (greater than one barrel) for more than four years.

The reason of this improved performance, compared with the disaster of 1990, is the company´s efforts to improve safety and environmental performance. If an incident occurred (like the spill in Texas in 2010), ExxonMobil introduces investigations and monitor the ship owner´s response to the spill.

Other spill performances, which were not caused by marine vessels, happened between 2007 and 2010 as well. This diagram gives you a short overview about the company´s spills to water and to soil. Because the company didn´t achieve its performance goals, especially in 2009, ExxonMobile focuses on improving its spill rates to zero. Therefore, a comprehensive strategy was developed, which includes

  • Root-cause analysis
  • Targeted equipment upgrades
  • Improved recordkeeping

In addition, the company also created approaches to protect the environment which can be influenced by other factors. This includes issues like

  • Waste management
  • Freshwater management
  • Reducing air emissions
  • Protect biodiversity

But does ExxonMobil really stick to its rules and standards?
How do critics evaluate the company´s environmental behavior?
What is good? What can be improved?

What critics say

On the other hand, critics argue that ExxonMobil does not support enough efforts to avoid global warming and climate change. The company rather spends money for lobbying (Mirella already wrote about this critical issue in her blog post on Monday).

Therefore, the campaign “ExxposeExxon” wants the company to invest more money in the protection of the environment, like in clean and renewable sources of energy.

If the company continues with “put its own profits above a clean environment and the health of America’s families“, the campaign argues, then “we are asking Americans not to accept a new job at ExxonMobil, invest in the company, or buy ExxonMobil’s gas and products“.

ExxonMobil is also criticized because the company often does not admit, if it is responsible for an incident. An example is the incident in Niedersachsen, Germany, in 2010. The company advances oil in Söhlingen with defective pipe lines. These lines caused that toxic chemicals like benzyl accidentally reached soil as well as ground water.
Lasting for month, ExxonMobil did not admit that it is responsible for that catastrophe which posed a health risk. Indeed, the company apologized for this incident in the end and eliminated the damage. However, you as a consumer actually don´t know all the incidents of Exxon because the company tends to camouflage mistakes.

ExxonMobil: No Switch on Climate Change!

Due to “Greenpeace”, a non-governmental environmental organization, ExxonMobil also argues that the emissions of carbon dioxide are not the main cause of the greenhouse effect. Therefore, the company invests lots of money in marketing campaigns to spread its opinion and to influence the consumer. But this opinion vetoes research results of climate scientists! Exxon argues that scientists have to do more research to figure out why the greenhouse effect appears.

To my mind, this statement of ExxonMobil makes the company more non-credible because it´s proved that carbon dioxide is responsible for the climate change.

Now, you got a short overview how ExxonMobil impacts our environment.
I´m just impressed by the fact how different the opinions of critics and the company itself are.
Of course, it would be bad for the company´s reputation, if it admits to be also responsible for the climate change. But it also causes to distrust, if ExxonMobil disagrees with definite research results about the greenhouse effect.

Tomorrow, Nicpic is going to inform you about CSR with regards to ExxonMobile.

About Lilly

Hei! Moi! Terve! My name is Lilly and I am a German business student spending two semesters abroad in Helsinki, Finland. I already felt in love with my new home in August, but now I decided to share my experiences with you. My aim is to give you an understanding of Finland itself, its culture as well as some advices at first hand; but hopefully, you are also convinced to get your own impressions visiting this breathtaking country at least once in your life. Tervetuloa!
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2 Responses to How ExxonMobil influences the environment

  1. Pingback: ExxonMobil and the value of CSR « fastexposure

  2. Pingback: This week on FastExposure « fastexposure

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