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ZeroSix and the Voluntary Carbon Market

What makes ZeroSix carbon credits—including those based on leave-it-in-the-ground fossil reserves—different from other carbon credits available on the voluntary carbon market (VCM)?

More than 70% of the world’s anthropogenic GHG emissions come from fossil fuel combustion and the hydrocarbon supply chain. Yet, most carbon offsets that companies buy to reach net zero targets have little to do with reducing fossil fuel consumption.

For example, nature-based carbon credits for avoided nature loss (e.g., protecting a forest from deforestation) and nature-based sequestration (e.g., carbon sequestered in biomass) “compensate” for GHG emissions that have already happened elsewhere in a company’s climate footprint.

By contrast, ZeroSix carbon credits from accelerated retirement of oil & gas wells are positioned upstream, directly within the fossil fuel supply chain, to prevent emissions from happening in the first place. By permanently protecting in-the-ground reserves from being extracted and burned we can address one of the core drivers of climate change.

Carbon credits and carbon offsets have come under a lot of scrutiny recently—aren’t carbon offsets a cheap way for companies to claim carbon neutrality or net zero emissions, without actually cleaning up their emissions footprint? Isn’t this just a greenwashing scam? Or can ZeroSix claim real positive climate impact?

Carbon credits, in their proper use, are part of a wider effort from an entity (e.g. country, state, company or individual) to achieve net zero emissions. This effort includes avoidance, reduction and offsetting. First and foremost companies should aim to avoid emissions. Second, companies should aim to reduce the GHG emissions where they can not be avoided. Third, and lastly, for the remaining emissions that can not be avoided or reduced in the short term high-quality carbon credits should be used to offset the remainder.

Carbon credits have come under scrutiny recently because, upon further investigations, many projects would have happened anyway or even worse did not happen at all.

ZeroSix aims to contribute to the solution by setting a new standard for high-quality carbon credits rooted in accuracy, additionality, permanency, and transparency. We believe that ZeroSix offers solutions to challenges in the VCM and challenges in the energy transition in general. For details on this we refer to answers in this FAQ.

What is the role of the VCM en route to Paris targets and a net-zero world?

For a shot at reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and a 1.5ºC Paris Agreement-aligned trajectory, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) most recent AR6 report made clear that the world needs both rapid decarbonization (i.e., emissions reductions) and carbon dioxide removal (e.g., carbon capture, utilization, and storage).

Yet, despite the scaling of solutions—including renewable energy generation and electric vehicle adoption—there remains a massive 23 gigatonne (Gt) gap between what’s needed for a Paris-target-aligned 2030 trajectory and the world’s current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and others have emphasized that carbon markets—both compliance and voluntary—will have a significant role to play, by tapping into the global need for both avoidance- and reduction-based carbon credits.

How much GHG emissions can be avoided through the ZeroSix solution?

Scientists estimate that 60% of the world’s oil & gas reserves and 90% of coal reserves must be left in the ground—unextracted and unburned—through 2050 to stay within Earth’s carbon budget. Yet Carbon Tracker’s global registry of fossil fuel reserves finds that the U.S. alone has enough fossil fuel reserves to blow the Earth’s entire carbon budget, even if all other countries ceased production immediately*.

For 150 years, the modern oil & gas industry’s focus has been on surfacing, refining, and burning fossil fuels. As the climate crisis grows, in a net-zero world, the most valuable barrels of oil and cubic feet of natural gas will be those that remain in the ground—never extracted and never burned. The next era of fossil fuel ‘prospecting’ is focused on the dual economic and climate opportunity of ‘harvesting’ unburned oil and natural gas as permanently protected carbon credits. 

According to ZeroSix analysis, our solution could unlock 1 Gt CO2e per year of avoided emissions, more than the annual GHG emissions of Germany, the world’s fourth-largest economy. And that massive opportunity is only counting oil & gas combustion. It is a conservative number that does not count other supply chain emissions which is a huge additional climate benefit.

For example, the U.S. is home to more than 850,000 low-rate wells producing less than 100 barrels of oil per day. This includes hundreds of thousands of ‘stripper wells’ that produce less than 15 barrels per day. Stripper wells account for less than 1% of U.S. oil & gas production, yet they are disproportionately responsible for a staggering 11% of sector methane emissions.

By targeting low-rate wells first, we’re also targeting the most-polluting wells that offer the best “bang for the buck” in terms of avoided emissions.


Why should fossil fuel companies earn carbon credit revenue for their oil & gas wells? Shouldn’t they plug and abandon them per government regulations anyway? The fossil fuel industry—not climate-focused and sustainability-minded companies and society—should pay the costs to abandon their reserves.

With the urgency of the climate crisis, all parties have a vested interest in investing in solutions that accelerate the energy transition off fossil fuels and onto modern, clean energy sources.

The reality is that today, many oil & gas producers continue operating low-rate wells to avoid plugging & abandonment costs, ultimately declaring bankruptcy for those wells. This leaves the mitigation responsibility in the hands of state and local governments, all at the expense of taxpayers. Meanwhile, those low-rate wells do continue producing fossil fuels that are ultimately burned, typically leaking fugitive methane, a potent GHG, in the process.

This is a losing scenario for almost everyone involved, especially the climate.

We are harnessing the power of the voluntary carbon market to create a financial incentive for oil & gas producers to permanently retire candidate wells early. This keeps plugging & abandonment costs in the hands of the producers, while accelerating the closure of wells, thus avoiding the emissions from both the combustion of those fuels and the fugitive methane that would have leaked during the wells’ remaining lifetime.

That’s a winning formula for everyone involved, most of all for the climate. We’re providing a meaningful pathway for oil & gas producers to become part of the climate action solution.

The oil and gas protocol

Are ZeroSix carbon credits additional?

Yes, ZeroSix carbon credits are based on the CO₂e emissions avoided by leaving oil or gas in the ground that otherwise would have been produced. See a more comprehensive answer here and an article about this here.

What is so important about additionality?

Additionality is an important prerequisite for a carbon credit, it means that the mitigation activity of a project would not have taken place in the absence of the incentive created by the carbon credits. In case of ZeroSix: a well would not have been retired early if it weren’t for the ZeroSix carbon credit. One of the most important eligibility criteria of a project to use the ZeroSix protocol is that the oil or gas reservoir that the well is connected to, is a “proved developed producing reserve”; this is a strictly regulated status of reserves under SEC guidelines. In other words, the oil or gas would have been extracted and burned if it were not for the ZeroSix carbon credit. See a more comprehensive answer here and an article about this here.

Do you account for fugitive gasses?

Yes we do. We take a conservative estimated average of 2% fugitive gasses as part of our calculations as stipulated in the protocol. In the next version of our protocol we will include the requirement for baseline emission monitoring per well prior to retirement. The measured baseline fugitive gas emissions will serve as input to calculate the related amount of CO₂e emissions avoided and thus the number of carbon credits associated with these gasses in the retirement operation.

What guarantees are in place to ensure that fossil fuel reserves remain permanently in the ground, unextracted and unburned? How permanent are they really, and what safeguards are in place?

Permanence is one of the cornerstones of the ZeroSix solution. We ensure permanence using technical, physical, legal and regulatory means. All steps have to be taken before the issuance of ZeroSix carbon credits. While most of these steps are sufficient permanence measures in themselves, together they create a carbon credit with  very low risk of reversals.

  • The plugging and abandonment of well(s) is an irreversible process that makes it extremely difficult to ever recover further hydrocarbons.
  • We require that oil & gas producers group wells that tap common reserves into a single carbon credit project, where all wells extracting oil and gas in that group must be plugged and abandoned. This ensures that reserves won’t be recovered from an adjacent well.
  • The project owner or operator must provide proof of restrictive covenants in line with the retirement of mineral extraction rights for the project. In this, the mineral owner legally gives up the right to extract oil and gas from the defined project restricted parcel. This ensures that oil & gas producers will not reverse course and redrill wells to later produce the reserves that had been converted into carbon credits. The restricted mineral rights form covenants running with the land, binding upon all current and future owners to the restrictions.
  • The ZeroSix platform generates a blockchain token that is an accurate, auditable, permanent and transparent record of all activities that were completed to meet the standards for carbon credit creation. This enables any third party to independently monitor the permanence of a project.
  • We maintain a buffer pool fund as an insurance escrow of sorts, so that carbon credit buyers can always have the confidence that one ZeroSix carbon credit represents one tonne CO2e, with recourse in place if an unlikely reversal ever does occur.
  • We keep on expanding our solution to further increase the quality of our credits, related to permanence explicitly:
    • We will establish a green investment fund for oil & gas producers, so that carbon credit revenue is directly channeled toward supporting the clean energy transition and a net-zero future in an independently verifiable way.
    • ZeroSix will use public regulatory databases to monitor and demonstrate that no future activities will impact existing projects. 

The ZeroSix Credits

Why would oil & gas operators retire their wells early?

The ZeroSix protocol and platform targets the least economic and most polluting wells within an operator’s portfolio. By retiring them early and converting the otherwise produced reserves into carbon credits, the future liability of the well becomes a carbon credit asset.

I want to buy ZeroSix carbon credits, when are they available?

Great to hear that you want to offset emissions through the purchase and retirement of ZeroSix carbon credits. The first carbon credits will be on the platform by August 2023. In the meantime, you can contact us about pre-purchase options and about reserving carbon credits through

Why does it take so long for ZeroSix carbon credits to be available?

ZeroSix only offers carbon credits of high quality, our credits are transparent, accurate, additional and permanent. The last pillar, permanence, requires - among other things - sign-off from the regulator, this helps ensure that there will be no reversals. The regulatory process can take time, in some cases months. We are working with suppliers to guide them through this process.

But it is worth the wait. The ZeroSix protocol is a scalable solution with a shorter lead time to crediting (months rather than years) than other projects on the market. Additionally, the ZeroSix protocol reduces methane emissions, which are known to be a more potent GHG (with >80 times the global warming potential compared to carbon over a 20-year period) and one of the key levers to reduce global warming rates this decade*.


Why would I want to buy carbon credits with ZeroSix?

More than 90% of the United States anthropogenic CO₂ emissions come from fossil fuel combustion*. Yet most carbon offsets that companies buy to reach net-zero targets have little to do with reducing fossil fuel consumption. ZeroSix credits address the key driver of climate change. On top of this our credits are transparent. Carbon credit transparency achieves two things. First, anyone can independently verify that each carbon credit is backed by effective climate action. Second, any individual or company using credits to offset emissions can easily prove these claims to the general public.

* come-from.php 

Offsetting emissions

What are Proved Developed Producing oil or gas reserves and why do you focus on these?

Additionality is one of the key criteria for any real carbon credit. Additionality means that without the incentive of receiving carbon credits, the measure for emissions reduction or carbon removal would not have happened. Retiring oil and gas wells prematurely is additional when without the carbon credits the oil or gas would have been extracted and burned. 

Public oil and gas companies with investor disclosures in the US are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). ZeroSix follows the SEC reserve definitions* in its protocol to ensure the assessments of a project are aligned to SEC regulations and the financial markets, thus underpinning the additionality of the carbon credits. Since reserve reporting is heavily regulated it provides a great basis for GHG abatement calculations.

ZeroSix credits only the most stringent reserve category, proved developed producing (PDP) reserves (and proved developed non-producing (PDNP) reserves under specific conditions), where in probabilistic terms there should be at least a 90% probability that the quantities actually recovered will equal or exceed the estimate.

Therefore, in the absence of the incentive of carbon credits, hydrocarbons would be extracted, refined and sold resulting in GHG emissions. In short, we limit ourselves to PDP reserves because they are extremely likely to result in GHG emissions and we believe they provide the basis for high quality carbon credits.

* section-210.4-10#p-210.4-10(a)

Developing projects

I want to shut in wells using the ZeroSix protocol and platform, when is this possible?

Great to hear that you are interested and want to work on positive change for the climate together! We are open to oil and gas operators immediately, feel free to reach out to us through

Why would I want to create carbon credits with ZeroSix?

ZeroSix offers a new paradigm for oil and gas assets. Historically the focus of the oil and gas industry has been on surfacing, refining, and burning fossil fuels. ZeroSix is focused on the dual economic and climate opportunity of 'harvesting' unburned oil and natural gas as permanently protected carbon credits. ZeroSix helps you seamlessly turn your most polluting assets into valuable carbon credits seamlessly. At the same time your company is enabled to contribute to positive climate action.

I am an individual with a small well which I would like to shut in, can I use ZeroSix?

Yes, ZeroSix is open to any operator in the US with proved developed reserves.

My well is based outside the US. Can I use ZeroSix?

Currently, ZeroSix is only operating in the US but we aim to expand to other areas in the future. Please keep an eye on our website for announcements.

Can I use the ZeroSix protocol to create carbon credits and sell them on a different platform?

Yes, this is possible. Following the ZeroSix protocol you can create carbon credits, if the process (please see the whitepaper) is followed correctly and approved by an independent third party verifier the end result is the minting of an ERC-1155 carbon credit token. This token can be transferred to a non-custodial wallet or to any platform that supports ERC-1155 tokens.

Is ZeroSix only for oil & gas producers?

No! Although we are starting with oil & gas producers, we are not stopping there. It’s a natural extension to welcome other forms of avoided hydrocarbon production into the ZeroSix solution. In fact, we’ve already received interest from coal companies that are similarly interested in retiring reserves early.

Beyond the fossil fuel industry, direct air capture and other carbon dioxide removal technologies are a natural fit. Ultimately any project that is precisely quantifiable and follows a strict protocol can use our technology to create independently verifiable carbon credits.

Project economics

Will this supply-side measure not lead to carbon leakage, lowering supply in one location but leading to increased supply elsewhere?

Carbon leakage is a well-known issue in climate policy. Leakage occurs both in demand-side policies as well as in supply-side policies. Research has shown that demand-side AND supply-side policies in tandem, cancel out leakage. In the US, most current policies are demand-side focused. For example, measures on improving energy efficiency or creating cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels. ZeroSix is the first market-based supply-side climate action. The goal is to create a market driven mechanism for reducing the supply of fossil fuels, the more value is placed on emission reduction, the more supply will be retired. By the nature of the design, 1) the retirement of the most polluting oil and gas wells is prioritized first, and 2) the carbon credit is used to reallocate resources towards developing alternative energy sources.

How can you guarantee that oil & gas operators do not use the revenue from the carbon credits to find and extract new oil and gas?

ZeroSix is a tool to create independently verifiable carbon credits. Our protocol and our platform covers the correct execution of a project. This includes, after a third-party verification, the automatic transfer of the minted token to the project owner (the oil or gas operator). The subsequent sales and use of the revenue of the sales is beyond the scope and beyond the control of the ZeroSix tool.

However, the aim of ZeroSix is clear: enabling the road to net-zero emissions. Most oil & gas operators using the ZeroSix tool will use it to not only turn their liabilities into assets but also to be part of the energy transition. To help them with this, ZeroSix will develop the opportunity to reinvest the revenues from selling carbon credits created with our technology, into the energy transition through a fund. This will be developed and rolled out in 2024.

What’s the break even point for oil & gas operators to retire wells and convert remaining reserves into carbon credits?

Each Project is unique and holds unique conditions regarding the costs of operating and retirement of the Project as well as the costs of oil & gas and carbon credit commodities at a specific time. The ZeroSix team can work with you to screen your Project(s) to better understand the value proposition. We offer a tool on our website to make an initial estimate of carbon credits that the project would deliver.

What is your revenue model?

Our revenue model is based on three income streams:

  • nominal upfront fees paid by project owners for use of the ZeroSix solution and for follow-on projects
  • a carbon credit minting fee of 15%, charged at time of creation
  • a 2.5% trading fee -to be paid by the buyer- for any carbon credit that is traded on the ZeroSix platform


Why do you use blockchain?

One of the core questions for any carbon credit buyer, but also for the general public, is: “is this carbon credit real?“. So far the VCM has relied on third parties to tell us whether a carbon credit was real but it has turned out that this is far from a fail-safe method. Even more so, when the stakes -monetary, reputation, regulatory- get higher, the value of being able to independently verify a carbon credit becomes higher. Blockchain removes the need of a trusted third party to tell us whether a carbon credit is real, the provenance and proofs of the carbon credit are built into the ZeroSix credit itself.

What blockchain do you use?

We use the Energy Web Chain which is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) compliant blockchain using a Proof-of-Authority consensus mechanism. It is a fit-for-purpose blockchain with high throughput, very low cost per transaction and a very low energy consumption.

The Energy Web Chain was developed by the Energy Web Foundation (EWF) a non-profit organization started by, amongst others, the Rocky Mountain Institute and currently governed by more than 100 energy companies who are members of EWF. More information can be found here.

Did you look at/are you open to other blockchains?

Yes we are open to another chain provided that it is a public blockchain with low cost per transaction and low energy consumption. 

Will you issue a token?

The ZeroSix carbon credit is an ERC-1155 token. The ZeroSix token represents a new model for end-to-end proofs and continued provenance for carbon credits,its function is distinct from, for example, utility tokens. Our token and carbon credit are one and the same and we are not planning to issue a separate token.

Isn’t blockchain bad for the climate?

The energy consumption of a blockchain depends on its consensus mechanism. ZeroSix proofs are anchored to the Energy Web Chain, a public Proof-of-Authority chain that consumes relatively little energy. One transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain, which uses the Proof of Work consensus mechanism, requires almost 400.000 times the energy consumption of one transaction on the Energy Web Chain*. The Energy Web Chain is specifically build for applications that facilitate the energy transition and is designed with low energy consumption in mind. On top of ZeroSix operates in a net-neutral manner in compliance with the Oxford Principles for Net Zero Aligned Carbon offsetting. This means we avoid as much GHG emissions as we can, reduce were possible and offset the rest of our emissions through the purchase of ZeroSix carbon credits from our operators. In this we also compensate for any ZeroSix related emissions on the Energy Web Chain.

*The energy consumption for one transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain, which uses the proof of work consensus mechanism, is 2,189 kWh. The energy consumption of one transaction on the Energy Web Chain is 0.00556 kWh. 

About ZeroSix

What does the name ZeroSix stand for?

Carbon is the sixth element in the periodic table and ZeroSix is on a mission to contribute to net zero carbon (dioxide) emissions.

Who came up with the idea for ZeroSix?

The founders of ZeroSix are Martijn Dekker, Scot Fraser and Humberto Sirvent. With a background in oil & gas they saw an opportunity to accelerate the energy transition by early retirement of producing oil and gas wells and converting the otherwise produced reserves into carbon credits.

Is ZeroSix a tech company?

Yes. The core of ZeroSix is a digital tool that enables a carbon credit protocol to be anchored to a blockchain making it the first blockchain-native carbon credit in the world. The first use case is a protocol to convert proved developed producing (PDP) oil and gas reserves into carbon credits (and under specific circumstances proved developed non-producing reserves), but the ZeroSix solution can be used to create independently verifiable carbon credits from any quantifiable emission reduction or carbon removal project.

What are the next use cases that the ZeroSix solution will be used for?

Any precisely quantifiable emission reduction or carbon removal project that is quantifiable is eligible for the ZeroSix solution. A logical next step is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) using former oil or gas wells and the early retirement of other fossil fuels. Other projects, such as nature-based solutions, that are precisely quantifiable and follow a strict protocol can use our technology to create independently verifiable carbon credits.

Can I invest in ZeroSix?

We are always interested in talking to strategic investors. Please feel free to reach out to us through

The ZeroSix team includes a number of people with extensive backgrounds in oil & gas operations. Should I really believe they’re interested in solutions to the climate crisis and leaving fossil fuels in the ground?

Yes! Who better to understand how to engage the oil & gas sector on the energy transition than insiders who have been in the business for a long time.

It’s one thing for an NGO focused on climate change to ‘tell’ the fossil fuel industry it needs to leave its oil and gas reserves in the ground. It’s quite another thing for respected oil and gas industry veterans to turn to their sector and offer a compelling market-based pathway for oil and gas producers to be part of the energy transition.

At ZeroSix we believe that idealism should be paired with pragmatism. We are using both qualities paired with decades of industry experience for good. We aim to contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions where it has the most impact and aim to measurably move the needle toward a Paris-aligned, net-zero future.