Abdullayev said SOCAR was also benefiting economically from its environmental policies, including limiting flaring of associated gas from its oil operations: “The results of collecting associated gas from our platforms -- instead of flaring them -- are quite remarkable. It has a significant benefit both in terms of the protection of the environment and as an additional source of income for SOCAR”.
He noted that associated gas collected from SOCAR-operated platforms amounts to about 15% of its total annual gas production, while from 2020 the company aims to halt flaring altogether.
“From next year, we will have zero flaring of associated gas at SOCAR. This gives us an advantage compared to other companies in the industry that are aiming to achieve these results by 2030. This is a case where an environmental program can be regarded both as an investment in sustainable production and business. Sustainability was becoming 'increasingly important for us as a company'," he said.
Despite a growing backlash across Europe toward fossil fuel use, Abdullayev told S&P Global Platts that gas still had a crucial role to play in the European energy mix: “As a company, we have not observed this backlash against gas yet. We rather feel that there is a more general resentment towards the excessive use of fossil fuels. While there were some general considerations, from a corporate perspective we are not so concerned about the future sales of gas from Azerbaijan. We have almost completed the Southern Gas Corridor, strictly abiding to the highest security and environmental standards”.
SOCAR President stressed that according to European Commission-backed research, Azerbaijan has been classified as a "low-emission source" in the chain from the gas fields to the consumption market among European gas suppliers: “We have signed contracts for the sale of gas for the next 25 years with a wide array of major European companies. Our buyers do not anticipate any difficulties in the buying of our products as there is a widening gap between local production in Europe and demand, according to forecasts."
“SOCAR was looking at carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects as a way of reducing emissions”, he said.
He said the company had also declared a "long-term goal" for its own operations to be zero emissions, including using more environmentally-friendly corporate transport, such as hybrid vehicles and compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled vehicles.
“We are reviewing project ideas for the accumulation of carbon emissions, to be used as raw materials and to inject it into the underground layers in various segments of our manufacturing chain. Our methanol plant has already been equipped with an online monitoring system for the reuse of CO2 emissions during the combustion phase of production. Public discourse "sometimes does not differentiate between different types of energy sources and the role of oil and gas beyond its use as fuel is often overlooked. For several years, we have been increasing our investments in the petrochemical industry. We provide direct feedstock for a wide array of commodity goods, such as plastics, rubber, fertilizers, and medicine. The feedstock for the petrochemical industry comes from the production of crude oil. We need to properly differentiate between the restriction on fossil fuels that have a higher or lower polluting impact for the environment. There is an environmental risk to increasing the ratio of more polluting and sometimes cheaper fuels in the energy basket, like heavy oil and coal, as opposed to natural gas, which is an environment-friendly alternative. SOCAR has also assumed an additional role as a "proactive contributor to and a driving force within the international environmental movement". For instance, SOCAR recently organized an international conference on the role of the Paris Agreement in combating climate change and protecting the environment”, Abdullayev said.