Updated: Exxon fined millions over GHG reporting error

21st February 2012


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Oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil was fined more than €3 million in 2010 for failing to report 33,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has revealed

The fine, thought to be the largest of its kind in the UK, was ordered by SEPA in September 2010, but only came to light when the regulator published statistics on its enforcement record for 2010-2011.

The report reveals that Exxon Mobil approached SEPA admitting that it had failed to include carbon emissions from three sources when calculating its total greenhouse-gas emissions for 2008, including emissions from its ethylene plant in Fife.

SEPA used its civil power to issue a fine in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme Regulations 2005, which transposes EU legislation with regards the EU emissions trading scheme. The Regulations include a provision stating that organisations should be fined €100 for every tonne of carbon emissions they fail to report, resulting in a total fine of €3,296,600 for Exxon Mobil.

A spokesperson for the company said: “The inaccuracy was identified by ExxonMobil’s internal systems and represented some 4.7% of the site total. We immediately provided this information to SEPA.”

She also explained that verification procedures at the Fife site, which opened in 1986 and is one of Europe’s largest ethylene plants, had now been improved.

Exxon's civil penalty far outstripped the largest fine imposed by the Scottish courts for an environmental offence during 2010-2011, which was a £90,000 penalty issued to haulage and waste disposal firm Doonin Plant after it illegally dumped controlled waste.

During 2010-2011, SEPA investigations resulted in 20 convictions, down from 34 in 2009-2010 and 38 in 2008-2009. Of the convictions, 13 were for waste offences, six were for water offences and one was under pollution prevention and control legislation.

Boosted by the Doonin Plant fine, fines issued in Scotland during 2010-11 totalled £153,125, up from £132,850 in the previous 12 months, with the average fine for limited companies reaching £17,050.

The previous largest penalty in the UK for an environmental offence was levied on Shell in 1990. It had to pay £1 million for polluting the Mersey River.


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