ASA Adjudication on ExxonMobil UK Ltd
ExxonMobil UK Ltd
6 April 2011
Number of complaints:
A TV ad for a fuel company showed a man who was identified as the company President of "Upstream Research". He stated "Natural gas is a cleaner burning fossil fuel, yet a lot of natural gas has impurities like CO2
in it. Controlled Freezone is a new technology being developed by Exxonmobil to remove CO2
from the natural gas and safely store it so it won't get into the atmosphere. Exxonmobil is spending more than 100 million dollars to build a plant that will demonstrate this process. I'm very optimistic about it because this technology could be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly".
The complainant objected that the ad misleadingly implied that capturing CO2 impurities during the processing of natural gases would contribute significantly to the reduction of global CO2 emissions, when he understood that burning these gases would produce far greater CO2 emissions than those which were saved in this process.
ExxonMobil UK Ltd (ExxonMobil) stated it was their aim that Controlled Free Zone technology would result in a more rapid deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology because it was a single-step cryogenic separation process that would freeze and then melt the CO2 found in produced sour-gas streams. They stated that the technology was more advantageous than conventional approaches to CO2 capture because it involved fewer steps, less capital requirements, a reduction or elimination of solvents and additives, lower acid gas injection costs and significant environmental benefits. They stated that sour gas had a CO2 content of between 15% and 80% but that their CCS technology aimed to remove the majority of it during processing.
They stated that the intention of the ad was to highlight the technological advances in CCS technologies which could dramatically reduce future emissions with the potential to address a significant level of global emissions.
They stated that it was well documented that up to 20 % of the total greenhouse gas emissions reductions necessary between now and 2050 could be achieved through the use of CCS technology.
Clearcast said the voice-over in the ad clearly reflected that Controlled Free Zone technology was being developed and addressed ExxonMobils hopes for its success. They said they understood that the claims were based on sound theories surrounding new carbon capture technology and that Controlled Free Zone would freeze CO2, melt it and inject it underground, preventing its release into the atmosphere.
We noted the ad stated that Controlled Free Zone was a new technology that was under development and that the ad provided details of its intended advantages. We considered that although most viewers were unlikely to be familiar with CCS, the ad made clear that the CO2 in natural gas was an impurity that had to be removed and that Controlled Free Zone technology would capture CO2 prior to combustion and store it so that it would not be released into the atmosphere. We understood that where CCS technologies were not in place, CO2 impurities removed from natural gas during processing were released into the atmosphere. We also understood that regardless of how the CO2 was removed from the raw gas, further CO2 would be created and then released into the atmosphere when the gas was burned as a fuel.
We noted it was estimated that the majority of the CO2 found in raw natural gas would be separated and stored through the Controlled Free Zone technology. We considered that most viewers would understand from the ad that it was Exxon Mobils aspiration that this CO2 would be removed through Controlled Free Zone technology and that this would subsequently result in an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We concluded that the ad was not misleading.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) 9.2 and 9.5 (Environmental claims) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.
Adjudication of the ASA Council (Broadcast)