How Does the US Oil & Gas Sector Fare In Terms of Sustainability?

Scene in an oil rig

The U.S. oil and gas sector has been the leading investor in zero-emission and low-carbon technologies between 2000 and 2016, according to an American Petroleum Institute (API) report.

The industry spent more than $108 billion for carbon reduction projects during the covered period. The figure represented more than twice the amount spent by the other two leading industries. As the country is expected to become the biggest oil exporter in the world, these investments will be more necessary.

Environmental Outcome

API’s report showed that the oil and gas industry’s carbon-reduction investments paid off in 2016 when greenhouse emissions from the sector fell by more than 57 million tons. Some of the investments went to the increased use of shale gas and advanced technology vehicles. The transition to shale gas also contributed to a 25-year-low in carbon emissions.

Carbon reduction only serves as one aspect of contingency measures, since exporters also need to focus on efficient storage. For instance, retrofitting or enhancing facilities need to be compliant with API 653 storage tank repair guidelines. This will be important as the country may soon outrank Saudi Arabia as the biggest crude oil exporter.

Market Dominance

The Energy Information Administration expects the country to be the market leader in global oil exports in the coming years, as Saudi Arabia and Russia limit their production. In 2017 alone, U.S. oil production reached a record high of 30 million barrels per day.

The increase has happened due to more affordable ways to extract shale oil and natural gas, including new technology for fracking and drilling projects. However, the industry should consider increasing its investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which would be a bigger issue if the country becomes the top oil exporter worldwide.


The rise of U.S. oil exports bodes well for energy companies, but it warrants an efficient strategy for storage and carbon footprint reduction.