Major oil companies are not declaring a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, a BBC News investigation has revealed.
The BBC found millions of tonnes of undeclared emissions from gas flaring at oil fields where BP, Eni, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell work.
Flaring of natural gas is the “wasteful” burning of excess gas released during oil production.
The companies said their reporting method was standard industry practice.
Flared gases emit a potent mix of carbon dioxide, methane and black soot which pollute the air and accelerate global warming.
The BBC has also found high levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals in Iraqi communities near oil fields where there is gas flaring. These fields have some of the highest levels of undeclared flaring in the world, according to BBC’s findings.
In response, David Boyd, UN special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, compared these communities to “modern sacrifice zones, areas where profit and private interests are prioritized over human health, human rights and the environment“.
People living in some of the world’s biggest oil fields in Basra, south-east Iraq – Rumaila, West Qurna, Zubair and Nahran Omar – have long suspected that childhood leukaemia is on the increase, and that flaring is behind it.
In the Basra region, new cases of all types of cancer rose by 20% between 2015 and 2018, according to a leaked Iraq Health Ministry report seen by BBC News Arabic. It blames air pollution.
BP and Eni are the lead contractors at Rumaila and Zubair oil fields respectively, but as they are not the operators they do not declare the emissions. Neither do the sites’ operators.
Photo: Essam Al-Sudani / Reuters
Looking back on my two decades in this field, I’m still as committed as ever to telling important stories and getting people to care about the Earth. Outside of writing, I work with Environmental groups that are trying to make things better for the environment and have a positive impact.