Reducing greenhouse gas emissions of engines in the oil and gas sector for improved sustainability


The oil and gas sector’s environmental footprint differs between its upstream, midstream and downstream activities. For midstream, refineries collectively represent the majority of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emitted in this stage of the processing. On the other hand, many different activities contribute to the sector’s GHG emissions produced during upstream processing. These activities range from onshore production and gathering, to natural gas processing. In fact, a collection of these upstream activities makes up over 10% of GHG emissions of the industrial sector in the U.S.1

Oil & gas sector's emission of greenhouse gases spread across several activities

For the rest of this article, we will focus on upstream oil and gas activities, ways to reduce greenhouse gases emitted from engines, and power systems used across upstream activities. From drilling contractors to oilfield services companies, GHG reduction is getting more traction, driven by a combination of regulatory and societal factors. 

A good starting point in reducing emission contaminants within upstream oil and gas activities is diesel engines. There are many emission regulations focused on reducing diesel engines’ environmental footprint; you can read more about these regulations in our previous article. Let’s start with diesel engines and reducing emissions.

Diesel engines’ emissions are significantly reduced with Tier 4, and equivalent emission regulations

In recent decades, the diesel engines’ emission  contaminants have been significantly reduced through various regulations. For instance, Tier 4 high-horsepower diesel engines used within oil and gas applications emit 80% less particulate matter, and 45% less NOx compared to their Tier 2 counterparts. These reductions also translate into financial gains; check how operators saved over $30 million in fuel, and avoided enough pollutants to fill a 15-mile long train through these Tier 4 solutions.

Most recently, two technologies have been adopted by the industry to achieve these ultra-low emissions with diesel engines: selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). While there are many technical differences between the two technologies, there is one key distinction between them: SCR is considered a post-combustion solution, while EGR is considered an in-cylinder solution to reduce the amount of contaminants released into the atmosphere. 

Engines with SCR technology often consume less fuel than engines with EGR technology, delivering fuel savings for their owners

Engine manufacturers could reduce combustion temperature to lower the emission of certain contaminants, but reduction of engine temperature often increases fuel consumption. SCR technology reduces NOx emissions external to the engine, without the need for reducing combustion temperature. With the higher combustion temperature allowed by SCR technology comes lower fuel consumption for operators. 

Implementation of SCR technology introduced minimal changes in engine design, helping you leverage the proven technologies you already rely on

Engineers had to introduce minimal architectural changes in existing engines to accommodate the SCR technology, since it is external to the engine. This means the reliability of existing engines proven through millions of hours of operation remain available to you. Plus, since this is a technology external to the combustion chamber, you can upgrade your older engines to meet the newer emission standards often required by exploration and oilfield service companies to contract on different sites.

Newer engines with SCR technology and their older versions have many common parts, making it more efficient and cost effective to maintain

Limited architectural changes from previous engines to the most recent engine platforms mean a higher degree of commonality when it comes to parts. Moreover, technicians who work with these ultra-low emission engines in oil fields can carry forward their familiarization with previous generations of engines.

Beyond diesel, emission reduction is also achieved through gaseous and renewable fuels 

Emission regulations and associated technologies covered above have greatly reduced the emission of contaminants from diesel engines. Meanwhile, there is another path ahead in reducing emissions in a drilling or well site: use of fuels beyond diesel. 

Natural gas offers lower CO2 emissions per unit of energy output among fossil fuels

Gaseous fuels, including natural gas, often reduce the emission of GHGs compared to diesel. For example, natural gas has one of the lowest CO2-to-energy content across all fossil fuels2. Moreover, natural gas engines often have much less Sulfur and NOx emissions than comparable diesel engines. On sites where there is an unlimited supply of natural gas, this also could translate into financial savings in the form of operational expenses (OPEX). 

Renewable fuels, including solar and wind, are the final destination and getting increasing attention within the oil and gas sector. For instance, ExxonMobil and Ørsted have entered into an agreement in 2018 for Exxon to source over 300MW of renewable power from over 100 wind turbines for its operations within the Permian Basin3. These renewable fuels offer carbon zero power for drilling and well sites.

Diversification will be the key word in the next couple of decades when it comes to energy and power solutions within upstream oil and gas operations. It is forecasted that a diverse set of fuels and technologies ranging from diesel and hydrogen, to renewables will co-exist to deliver the reduced environmental footprint in a manner that is financially manageable by oil and gas sector players. 

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1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (n.d.). GHGRP Petroleum and Natural Gas Systems Sector Industrial Profile [PDF file]. Retrieved from
2 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (n.d.). How much carbon dioxide is produced when different fuels are burned? [Web page]. Retrieved from
3 Orsted (n.d.). Our onshore wind farms in the U.S. [Web page]. Retrieved from

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Aytek Yuksel - Cummins Inc

Aytek Yuksel

Aytek Yuksel is the Content Marketing Leader for Cummins Inc., with a focus on Power Systems markets. Aytek joined the Company in 2008. Since then, he has worked in several marketing roles and now brings you the learnings from our key markets ranging from industrial to residential markets. Aytek lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife and two kids.

Cummins position on recent environmental matters


Cummins has a long history of supporting EPA’s authority to regulate our products for pollution and carbon emissions. We, along with several industry partners, signed an Amicus Brief in the West Virginia v. EPA case supporting this authority for stationary sources. EPA’s nation-wide air regulations are critical to maintain business certainty and drive innovation  in the commercial vehicle sector. We look forward to working with EPA on a Phase 3 fuel efficiency rule for trucks that is tough, clear and enforceable, just like we did for the Phase 1 and 2 rules. Also, recently the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) filed a lawsuit regarding California’s Heavy Duty Omnibus clean truck regulation. While Cummins is a member of EMA and works with EMA on many issues, Cummins previously chose not to participate or financially support this litigation. We similarly look forward to working with EPA, states, and other interested organizations and stakeholders to promote regulations that are achievable and better the environment now and along the way to a future of zero emissions. 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins, a global power technology leader, is a corporation of complementary business segments that design, manufacture, distribute and service a broad portfolio of power solutions. The company’s products range from internal combustion, electric and hybrid integrated power solutions and components including filtration, aftertreatment, turbochargers, fuel systems, controls systems, air handling systems, automated transmissions, electric power generation systems, microgrid controls, batteries, electrolyzers and fuel cell products.

Cummins uses Environmental Month to educate and empower employees on climate strategy

Employees work on a riverbank restoration project.

Cummins Inc. this week wrapped up its 9th annual June Environmental Month, a four-week series of seminars, presentations and more to help employees learn about the company’s commitment to a healthy planet, and the important role they play in implementing it.

Discussion topics ranged from climate change to environmental justice as well as the state of PLANET 2050, the company’s environmental sustainability strategy, and Destination Zero, Cummins’ newest initiative to guide its decarbonization journey.

“It is very exciting to see how Cummins has embraced our PLANET 2050 goals and announced important efforts so we can do our part to preserve clean air, available water and a sustainable planet for future generations to enjoy,” said Vice President Jim Fier, the company’s Chief Technical Officer, in a note to employees introducing this month’s activities.

Cummins is committed to taking a leadership role on the world’s climate challenges, working with other stakeholders to take action. The company is reducing the carbon produced by its core products, including internal combustion engines, while bringing to market the new technologies that will power the future, including battery-electric platforms and hydrogen fuel cells.

Board member addresses employees

This year’s kick-off event was a presentation by Cummins Board Member Dr. Franklin Chang Diaz, a former NASA astronaut and founder, Chairman and CEO of the Ad Astra Rocket Company. Ad Astra is a leading spaceflight technology company dedicated to the development of advanced plasma rocket propulsion.

The former astronaut and Ad Astra have been pioneers in exploring the potential of green hydrogen as a no-carbon fuel to address the world’s climate issues.

Chang Diaz shared his perspectives on various technologies and the best course of action to address the environmental challenges the world faces. About 1,300 employees watched the live event or a video recorded of it.

Other presentations included a discussion on “How do we heal the planet?” featuring Dr. Sailesh Rao, founder and Executive Director of Climate Healers, a non-profit dedicated to healing the Earth’s climate.

Dr. Rao worked on internet communications infrastructure for 20 years after obtaining his doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University before dedicating his life’s work to environmental concerns.

How strategies align

Environmental Month also served as an excellent opportunity to discuss how Destination Zero aligns to PLANET 2050 and the company’s business strategy. Cummins’ PLANET 2050 strategy includes nine environmental goals timed to 2030, building on the success of the company’s environmental goals announced in 2014 and timed to 2020.

In addition to the new goals, PLANET 2050 includes the aspiration to power customer success with net-zero emissions technology by 2050. Destination Zero is the company’s strategy to achieve that aspiration in a way that serves all of the company’s stakeholders. Company leaders believe the global drive to reduce carbon is a growth opportunity for Cummins.

Even employees who do not have a role directly tied to the company’s products can be part of the PLANET 2050 initiative by volunteering on a community-based environmental project or joining Cummins' PLANET 2050 Influencer program, designed to raise awareness about the company’s environmental efforts. More than 250 employees have volunteered for the influencer program, so far.

Brian Mormino, Cummins’ Executive Director of Technical Environmental Systems, told employees attending his Environmental Month presentation that PLANET 2050 aligns seamlessly with Destination Zero, which connects with the company’s business strategy.

“Together, they provide a path to making a positive impact on the environmental challenges we face that aligns with Cummins’ mission to make people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world,” Mormino said. “We can’t have a prosperous world without clean air, water and land, and every employee has a role to play.”

blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]


Leaders say Cummins ‘uniquely positioned’ to lead on climate action

President and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Rumsey meets with Cummins employees.

Cummins Inc. leaders used this week’s Annual Meeting to tell stakeholders the company is ready to lead in the effort to address the world’s climate challenges and other environmental issues.


Cummins is embracing the opportunity to be part of the solution addressing climate change by pursuing reductions in greenhouse gases (GHGs) from both the company’s internal combustion engines and new technologies. President and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Rumsey pointed to Cummins’ Destination Zero initiative, the company’s strategy to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in a way that serves all of Cummins’ stakeholders and is sustainable for the company.

“Our industry plays a significant role in contributing to climate change – both the problem and the solution,” said Rumsey, who addressed Cummins’ climate strategy during the May 10 meeting. “We will lead our industry in the path to net-zero emissions because it is critical for our planet and future generations, and because it is a growth opportunity for us.”

There are five key capabilities, Rumsey said, that make  Cummins “uniquely positioned” to lead on the transition to a net-zero emission economy and decarbonization:

  • First, the company is a leader in the key technologies for reaching zero tailpipe emissions in commercial and industrial applications as well as the “transition technologies” that lower carbon emissions from engine-based solutions broadly available today.
  • Second, after more than 100 years in business, Cummins is a trusted partner in providing power solutions to leading original equipment manufacturers and customers, which “brings us visibility to opportunities and product plans, and economies of scale in production and service,” Rumsey said. 
  • Third, the company knows its customers and applications, “each of which has unique technical, performance and service demands,” Rumsey said. “We have thousands of highly-skilled engineers who know how to adapt existing and new technologies into products our customers can actually use and afford.”
  • Fourth, Cummins is building a combination of business segments “that have both the capability to serve the industry and the agility to pivot our product offerings depending on changes in regulations and infrastructure, advancements in technology and end user preference.”
  • Finally, Rumsey said the company has invested significantly to attract and build the best talent and to “create an environment for innovation and long-term success that will increase shareholder value.” 

Diversity, equity and inclusion is critical to the company’s efforts to develop the kind of work environment that can lead the energy transformation.

“For us to win on the journey to decarbonization, we also need to create an inclusive environment to spur innovation, attract and build the best talent, and develop our next generation of leaders,” Rumsey said.

“…Diversity and inclusion is a core value at Cummins, and our leaders believe that diversity creates a strong, more competitive work environment that enables all employees to contribute fully, and ultimately, helps us attract and retain top talent,” Rumsey added. “To achieve that goal, we have implemented systems and processes to mitigate potential bias and ensure equitable hiring and advancement of all talent. By making room for everyone to succeed, we will win with the power of difference.”

Cummins has set the stage for success not just through Destination Zero but also PLANET 2050, the company’s environmental sustainability strategy, which includes science-based targets aligned to the Paris Climate Accords, with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Sustainability is core to achieving our mission of making people’s lives better by powering a more prosperous world,” Rumsey said. “It’s what we’ve always done – we were the first company to embrace more stringent emission standards in the U.S. – and how we will keep operating.”


blair claflin director of sustainability communications

Blair Claflin

Blair Claflin is the Director of Sustainability Communications for Cummins Inc. Blair joined the Company in 2008 as the Diversity Communications Director. Blair comes from a newspaper background. He worked previously for the Indianapolis Star (2002-2008) and for the Des Moines Register (1997-2002) prior to that. [email protected]


Cummins CEO discusses men's role in achieving gender equality

Mary Chandler moderating a panel with Tom Linebarger and Gary Barker, CEO of Promundo-US

Cummins Powers Women unites leaders and employees around the world in finding solutions to gender inequality in our communities, reinforcing Cummins’ commitment to the advancement of women everywhere. Recently, Cummins Powers Women hosted a town hall for employees featuring Mary Chandler, Vice President – Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility, moderating a panel with Tom Linebarger, Cummins Chairman and CEO, and Gary Barker, CEO of Promundo-US. Their conversation highlighted the importance of lifelong learning for boys and men to progress gender equality.

Promundo-US is a global leader in advancing gender equality and preventing violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women, girls and individuals of all gender identities. Cummins Powers Women partners with the organization in Europe on its Global Boyhood initiative, which involves young boys and their caregivers in after-school programs to address cultural and social norms about masculinity.

Linebarger and Barker shared their personal stories and the significance of gender equality in their lives by chronicling some of their most memorable experiences that have shaped their thinking. Linebarger discussed the urgency of achieving gender equality sooner. 
“Even outside of business, I think we can all agree that gender equity is better for everyone,” Linebarger said. “It’s time to make significant progress and find a solution for all of us to experience gender equity.” 

Their conversation focused on false views of masculinity, societal violence that plagues men and women, non-gender binary company policies for caregiving, and creating healthier forms of masculinity. “All men play a critical role in serving as allies and helping to find the solution for gender equity,” said Barker. “We, as men, live better when we become part of the solution.”  

Top 5 takeaways: 

  • Gender equity benefits everyone. 
  • Men have a place as allies working alongside women to achieve gender equity.
  • Companies with non-gender binary policies have better retention. 
  • Managers should provide a safe space and open conversation for employees who need to take parental leave or provide caregiving.  
  • Everyone plays an equal role in breaking the cycle of gender-based inequities and helping to find a solution for gender equity. 

Cummins Powers women seeks scaled solutions wherever possible by partnering with a network of global nonprofit organizations that have existing, outcome-based programs focused on areas where significant barriers exist to the advancement of girls and women. While this discussion highlighted the importance of lifelong learning for boys and men, the program also focuses on educational attainment, law and policy changes, economic empowerment and personal safety. 

Watch the full event below! 

Chauncey Cox

Chauncey Cox

Chauncey Cox is the Project Manager for Cummins Powers Women. Chauncey joined the Company in 2018 as a Marketing and Communications Specialist.

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