2017 Shareholder Resolution
Company: Occidental Petroleum Corporation
Topic: Methane/GHG


Research indicates methane leaks from gas operations could erase the climate benefits of reducing coal use. Methane emissions are a significant contributor to climate change, with an impact on global temperature roughly 84 times that of CO2 over a 20 year period. Leaked methane represented 30 billion dollars of lost revenue (3 percent of gas produced) in 2012. Yet, an October 2016 study published in Nature indicates methane emissions from the oil and gas sector are 20 to 60 percent higher than previously thought.

Methane represents over 25 percent of 20-year CO2 equivalent emissions according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And emissions are projected to increase more than 20 percent without action by 2030 (Rhodium).

Domestic flaring has propelled the U.S. into the top 10 gas flaring countries globally. Approximately 29 percent of gas produced in the Bakken is flared and flaring in North Dakota more than doubled between May 2011 and May 2013, with 1 billion dollars’ worth of gas lost in 2012.

Studies from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Harvard University and others estimate highly varied methane leakage rates as a percentage of production. The attendant uncertainty surrounding methane leakage has, according to the New York Times, made it “the Achilles’ heel of hydraulic fracturing.”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) points to managing methane emissions as one of the five key measures for effectively addressing climate change, recommending actions that “could stop the growth in global energy-related emissions by the end of this decade at no net economic cost.” Policies such as eliminating venting, minimizing flaring and setting targets on emissions “rely only on existing technologies” and “would not harm economic growth.”

A failure by companies to proactively reduce methane emissions may invite more rigorous regulations. The EPA released new rules in May 2016 to reduce oil and gas sector methane emissions by 11 million metric tons by 2025. Some individual states have already adopted stricter regulations.

Methane leakage and flaring has a direct economic impact on Occidental Petroleum, as lost and flared gas is not available for sale. We believe a strong program of measurement, mitigation, target setting and disclosure reduces regulatory and legal risk, maximizes gas for sale and bolsters shareholder value.


Shareholders request Occidental Petroleum issue a report (by October 2017, at reasonable cost, omitting proprietary information) reviewing the Company’s policies, actions, and plans to measure, disclose, mitigate, and set quantitative reduction targets for methane emissions and flaring resulting from all operations under the company’s financial or operational control.


We recommend including the methane leakage rate as a percentage of production, the quantity of flared and vented hydrocarbons, how the Company is measuring and mitigating emissions, best practices, worst performing assets, quantitative targets, and methods to track progress over time. Best practice strategy would utilize real-time measurement and monitoring technologies.

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