Oil giant ConocoPhilips reduces gas flaring emissions via Bitcoin mining

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International oil and gas giant ConocoPhilips is dipping its toes into bitcoin (BTC) mining to eliminate wasteful burning practices.

The company is currently running a pilot program in oil-rich Bakken, North Dakota, according to a CNBC report. Instead of burning excess gas, a by-product of oil drilling known as flaring, the company sells it to a third-party bitcoin miner to use as fuel.

Regarding the environmental impact of “conventional burning,” a company spokesman said the decision to move to bitcoin mining reflects the company’s overall goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating routine burning as quickly as possible, by 2030 at the latest.

In a slide from ConocoPhillips’ 2021 presentation, the company said it is “continuously focused” on ensuring that gas capture projects do not achieve conventional flaring by 2025.

Bitcoin mining offers a unique and cost-effective solution to the problem of routine burning, which occurs when mining companies accidentally hit natural gas formations while drilling for oil.

While oil can be extracted and collected anywhere, natural gas production requires pipeline infrastructure. When miners encounter gas at a considerable distance from the pipeline, companies are forced to flare or “flare” the gas, which is ultimately a cost-effective and environmentally unsound process.

Instead of letting the gas go to waste, bitcoin miners set up containers or trailers of cryptocurrency mining equipment next to an oil well and funnel the gas to generators that power the equipment.

Related: Are we wrong about the environmental impact of bitcoin mining?

ConocoPhillips did not disclose who the bitcoin was sold to or how long the preliminary experiment took.

Another US oil and gas explorer, Crusoe Energy, has also used bitcoin mining to profitably reduce emissions, with about 60 data centers and bitcoin mining rigs powered by vented natural gas from its oil fields. According to an Argus media report, Crusoe Energy’s technology reduces CO2 equivalent emissions by up to 63% compared to conventional conventional combustion.

In response to widespread criticism of bitcoin mining, which is usually associated with concern for the environment, miners are increasingly concerned with finding new ways to use more sustainable methods of generating energy.

The Bitcoin Mining Council estimated a sustainable energy consumption pattern of 58.5% for global industry in the fourth quarter of 2021. Miners in Norway even use waste heat to dry wood.

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