The global oil and gas giant ConocoPhilips dives into bitcoin (BTC) mining to get rid of wasted burning methods.
The company is currently running a pilot scheme in the oil-rich Bakken, North Dakota region, 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.
Speaking of the environmental impact of “conventional firing”, a spokesman for the company said that the decision to switch to bitcoin mining reflects the company’s overall goal of reducing and eventually eliminating routine firing as soon as possible, no later than 2030.
In a slide from ConocoPhillips’ 2021 presentation, the company said it is “continuously focused” on ensuring that gas capture projects reach the goal of zero flaring by 2025.
Bitcoin mining offers a unique and lucrative solution to the problem of routine firing, which occurs when mining companies accidentally encounter natural gas formations while drilling for oil.
While oil can be pumped and collected anywhere, natural gas extraction requires a pipeline infrastructure. If miners extract gas at a considerable distance from the pipeline, companies are forced to flare or “flare” the gas, which is an unfavorable and ultimately environmentally harmful measure.
Instead of wasting gas, bitcoin miners place freight containers or trailers filled with cryptocurrency mining equipment next to an oil well and turn the gas into generators that power the equipment.
Related: Are we being misled about the environmental impact of bitcoin mining?
ConocoPhillips did not disclose which bitcoin miner it sold, nor the length of the first trial period.
Another US oil and gas explorer, Crusoe Energy, has also used bitcoin mining as a way to profitably reduce emissions, with around 60 data centers and bitcoin mining units powered by converted natural gas in their oil fields. According to Argus media, Crusoe Energy’s technology reduces CO2 equivalent emissions by 63% compared to conventional combustion.
In response to the widespread criticism of bitcoin mining, which is usually associated with concern for the environment, miners are increasingly interested in finding new ways to use more sustainable ways to generate energy.
The Bitcoin Mining Council estimates that the share of sustainable energy consumption in global industry in the last quarter of 2021 reached 58.5%. Even miners in Norway use waste heat to dry wood.