In January, Occidental Petroleum announced it had accomplished something no oil company had done before: It sold a shipload of crude that it said was 100% carbon-neutral.
While the two-million-barrel cargo to India was destined to produce more than a million tons of planet-warming carbon over its lifecycle, from well to tailpipe, the Texas-based driller said it had completely offset that impact by purchasing carbon credits under a U.N.-sponsored program called CORSIA.
Carbon credits are financial instruments generated by projects that reduce or avert greenhouse-gas emissions such as mass tree plantings or solar power farms. The projects’ owners can sell the credits to polluting companies, who then use them to make claims of offsetting their carbon emissions.
Details of the Occidental transaction have not been previously reported. Two sources involved in the deal told Reuters that the driller paid about $1.3 million for the credits – or about 65 cents per barrel. Oil currently sells for more than $60 a barrel.
Occidental and the U.N. program say such credits make the two-million-barrel cargo carbon-neutral because they represent an equivalent amount of greenhouse gas removed from the atmosphere by the projects generating the credits.