Exxon Mobil, the largest U.S. oil company, is considering expanding its bitcoin mining pilot program in North Dakota to minimize the amount of natural gas it burns off or flares into the atmosphere.
According to those familiar with the situation, the oil company has a deal with Crusoe Energy Systems to divert gas from an oil well pad that would otherwise be squandered to mobile bitcoin mines. The trial project began in January 2021 in North Dakota’s Bakken and was enlarged in July, according to the paper; it now consumes up to 18 million cubic feet of gas per month that Exxon couldn’t otherwise monetize.
Exxon is investigating similar experimental projects in Alaska, Nigeria’s Qua Iboe Terminal, Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale resource, Guyana, and Germany.
“We continually assess developing technology targeted at minimizing flaring quantities across our facilities,” said Sarah Nordin, a spokeswoman for the company. She said she couldn’t comment on “rumors and speculations about the pilot project.”
Bitcoin mining allows oil firms to sell gas discovered by mistake when drilling for oil, not only increasing revenues but also helping the environment, as such energy is frequently wasted owing to a lack of nearby pipelines.
Crusoe, based in Denver, assists these businesses in capturing otherwise squandered extra gas from their energy production, converting it to electricity, and using it to power data centers and bitcoin mining operations. Bitcoin mining, according to the company, reduces carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions by more than 60% when compared to conventional flaring.
These pilots are a welcome start for Exxon in finding a purpose for its extra gas, according to Danielle Fugere, president of environmental shareholder-activist group As You Sow. “It makes use of something that would otherwise go to waste,” she explained.
ConocoPhillips, the oil and gas company, set up similar facilities in Bakken, North Dakota, this month to sell excess natural gas to a bitcoin mining farm run by a third party.
According to the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center, the Bakken contains one of the greatest quantities of oil and natural gas in the United States, resulting in the “Bakken oil boom,” which made North Dakota the second-largest oil-producing state in the US, behind only Texas.