Oil giant ConocoPhilips reduces gas flaring emissions via Bitcoin mining

ConocoPhilips, an international oil and gas company, is trying to get rid of the wasteful practice known as flaring.

CNBC reports that the company operates a pilot program in Bakken, North Dakota, an oil-rich area. The company will not burn excess gas (also known as flaring) but instead will sell it to a third-party Bitcoin miner for fuel.

A representative of the company spoke out about the environmental effects of routine flaring. He stated that the company’s decision to invest in Bitcoin mining was driven by the overarching goal of eliminating routine flaring as soon and as quickly as possible. This is no later than 2030.

The company said in a slide taken from a presentation by ConocoPhillips 2021 that it is “ongoing focused” on ensuring that gas cap projects are free of routine flaring by 2025.

ConocoPhillips testing out bitcoin mining in the Bakken Good find from @EnergyInfraBro $COP pic.twitter.com/Gk5tRJCbrh
September 23, 2021 by Collin McLelland (@FracSlap).

Bitcoin mining is a profitable and unique solution to routine flaring. This occurs when oil companies accidentally drill for natural gas.

Natural gas harvesting, however, requires infrastructure for pipelines. Oil can be siphoned and collected anywhere. Companies are required to burn or “flare gas” if miners strike natural gas that is more than a few miles from a pipeline. This can be costly and harmful for the environment.

Instead of wasting gas, Bitcoin miners put shipping containers or trailers containing crypto mining equipment close to an oil well. The gas is diverted into generators that power the equipment.

Related: Are we wrong about Bitcoin mining’s environmental impact?

ConocoPhillips didn’t disclose the name of the Bitcoin miner it was selling, or how long the preliminary experiment had been ongoing.

Crusoe Energy, another US-based oil and natural gas explorer, has also taken advantage Bitcoin mining to reduce emissions. Crusoe Energy currently operates approximately 60 data centers and Bitcoin mining machines powered by the oil fields’ diverted natural gas. Crusoe Energy’s technology reduces CO2-equivalent emissions up to 63%, according to Argus media. This is in contrast with routine flaring.

Miners are becoming more concerned about finding sustainable energy sources in response to widely-circulated criticisms that Bitcoin mining is causing.

According to the Bitcoin Mining Council, the industry will need a sustainable energy mix that is 58.5% in the fourth quarter 2021. Norway’s miners even use waste heat to dry lumber.