As a result of these efforts, ExxonMobil’s combined emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) have decreased more than 45 percent over the past 10 years across all of our businesses.
One example of how we have reduced emissions from our Upstream operations involves Balder, one of ExxonMobil’s permanent, floating production vessels stationed offshore Norway. From 2013 to 2015, the vessel’s four main power engines were converted to low-NOx systems. The conversion has reduced annual NOx emissions by approximately 21 percent, equal to 290 metric tons of NOx per year. Another example involves our Antwerp refinery in Belgium. In 2015, the refinery began construction of a new tail gas cleanup (TGCU) system to reduce on-site SO2 emissions by more than 2,300 metric tons per year. The TGCU is expected to be fully operational in 2017.
In January 2015, the International Maritime Organization reduced the cap on the sulfur content in marine vessel fuels from 1.0 to 0.1 percent by mass for all ships operating in emission control areas (ECA). This action has reshaped the shipping landscape, particularly in Europe and North America, spurring new demand for fuels that help marine operators comply with the cap. In response, we introduced ExxonMobil Premium Heavy Distillate Marine 50, an ECA-compliant premium fuel that combines the low sulfur content of lighter marine oils with the lower volatility typically associated with heavy fuel oils.
ExxonMobil complies with applicable host-country environmental laws and regulations and applies responsible standards where laws and regulations do not exist. Wherever reasonable, we strive to go beyond compliance to demonstrate leadership in environmental management. One example of this is at our Baton Rouge refinery in Louisiana.
ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge refinery is the third-largest refinery in the United States, occupying 2,100 acres along the Mississippi River. In 2014, we upgraded the biological oxidation (BIOX) wastewater treatment system at the refinery. Our investment included an additional $10 million to increase denitrification capacity. The new BIOX system became fully operational in January 2015 and has successfully cut effluent nitrate levels by 50 percent. The system has also helped reduce the refinery’s overall reportable releases to the environment, including air emissions, water discharges and offsite waste transfers, by 30 percent.
Our worldwide environmental expenditures in 2015 totaled approximately $5.6 billion. This included an estimated $1.8 billion in capital expenditures and approximately $3.8 billion in operating expenses. In 2015, 53 penalties, fines and settlements were paid, accounting for less than one-tenth of one percent of total environmental expenditures, or about $5.5 million.