Exxon Mulls Expanding Gas Flare-Powered Crypto Mining Pilot Program

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In Brief
  • Exxon Mobil is considering expanding a pilot program where excess natural gas is used to power cryptocurrency mining.

  • Prospects include Alaska, the Qua Iboe Terminal in Nigeria, Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale field, Guyana and Germany.

  • The 18 million cubic feet of gas used per month in the pilot project would otherwise have been burned off as waste, in a process known as gas flaring.

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Exxon Mobil is considering expanding a pilot program where excess natural gas is used to power cryptocurrency mining rigs.

In partnership with Crusoe Energy Systems, the oil giant has been using gas from the Bakken shale basin in North Dakota to fuel mobile generators powering Bitcoin mining servers. 

The pilot project launched in January 2021 and later expanded in July, with other prospects including Alaska, the Qua Iboe Terminal in Nigeria, Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale field, Guyana and Germany. 

Senator Ted Cruz has advocated for crypto mining to be powered by gas flaring in Texas, where 50% of gas flaring in the U.S. occurs. Crypto miners convened with the state’s oil and gas executives at a summit in Sept.

Crusoe owns 20 portable engines permitted for use in North Dakota, of which 11 have seen service, according to the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality. The energy start-up will also provide similar services for Equinor ASA and Devon Energy Corp.

Last year, the company closed a $128 million investment, led by Valor Equity Systems with participation from Bain Capital, Coinbase Ventures, and Winklevoss Capital. 

The 18 million cubic feet of gas used per month in the pilot project would otherwise have been burned off as waste, in a process known as gas flaring. 

According to one expert, roughly 90% of the gas produced in North Dakota makes its way into pipelines to power plants and elsewhere, consequently the rest is flared. 

While oil and gas producers have been under increasing pressure to reduce the amount of gas they flare, as part of greater sustainability efforts, cryptocurrency mining has provided a way for the excess energy to be utilized effectively.

“We continuously evaluate emerging technologies aimed at reducing flaring volumes across our operations,” spokeswoman Sarah Nordin said

Exxon anticipates end to flaring by 2030

She added that Exxon anticipates meeting the World Bank’s call to end routine flaring by 2030. However, she neglected to comment on “rumors and speculations regarding the pilot project.” 

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage.

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