Energy Exchange

Response to methane synthesis critiques

A new paper published in Science last week that is the culmination of an extensive amount of research conducted over the past six years examining methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain. The study finds that the U.S. oil and gas industry emits 13 million metric tons of methane per year – 60% higher than the EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory (GHGI) estimates. Some industry sources have questioned the conclusions drawn in the paper and the methods employed to which I respond below.

The 25 co-authors of this Science paper represent 16 different research institutions. These experts were collectively responsible for generating most of the data analyzed and directly involved in writing the paper, which was subjected to a rigorous independent peer review as a condition of publication in one of the world’s top scientific journals.

Informed critiques are a valuable part of the scientific process. But the key issues raised by Energy in Depth (EID) and the American Gas Association seem to reflect a deep misunderstanding of the approaches used in the paper and the underlying data. Here, I explain the methods used to avoid bias and resolve differences among multiple data sets.

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Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Your investors are asking about methane risk: here's why, and what you can do

A version of this piece originally appeared in Petroleum Economist.

With the annual corporate shareholder meeting season coming to a close and the World Gas Conference around the corner, one thing is abundantly clear – investors are strengthening their stance on climate, and they want the oil and gas industry to step up and reduce methane emissions.

In an open letter in the Financial Times earlier this spring, investors overseeing more than $10.4 trillion wrote they are expecting the oil and gas industry to change how it operates and transition its operations and corporate strategy to a low-carbon economy. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

How virtual reality can help the oil and gas industry confront its invisible challenge: methane

I’m a certified oil and gas tech nerd, and I’ve never been so excited about my job. I love data, the insights that come with it, and especially the ways of applying those insights to catalyze continuous improvement. There are few decisions I make without an Excel spreadsheet – and after spending several years working for an oilfield services company, I’m passionate about solving one of the biggest environmental problems of our time: methane emissions.

Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas and a common byproduct of oil production. Unburned, it’s also a powerful greenhouse gas. Worldwide, about 75 million metric tons of methane escape each year from oil and gas operations through leaks, venting and flaring – making the industry one of the largest sources of man-made methane emissions.

As methane risk draws increasing attention from public officials, major investors and industry leaders, tech solutions are increasingly relevant and “digitization of the oilfield” is becoming industry’s hottest new term.

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Posted in Fourth Wave, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Oilfield digitization advancing solutions to meet an environmental challenge

Two global trends are converging in the energy industry, and the result could spur the biggest environmental advancement in a generation.

Known by some as the “digitization of the oilfield,” it’s the new wave of technologies linked with big data that is transforming an established industry. For the world's oil and gas industry, this push toward digitization is emerging as a central part of strategic planning, as the energy landscape is reshaped by increasing competition from renewables and electrification. But competitiveness means more than bringing new efficiencies online, it also means improving environmental performance.

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Posted in Fourth Wave, General, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

What the heck is an environmental group doing at the World Gas Conference?

The simple answer is this. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) approaches challenges pragmatically. If we want to rid the planet of harmful climate pollution, our efforts must include working with the industries that can make the biggest difference.

That means I spend a lot of my time working with leaders from the oil and gas industry. While we don’t always agree, we forge solutions wherever we can.

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Posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

As Permian drilling booms, will the Texas Railroad Commission stand against wasted gas?

This piece originally appeared as an op-ed in the Midland Reporter-Telegram

The West Texas Permian oilfield is poised for rapid development in the next decade; the Energy Information Administration projects oil production in the Permian could grow 60 percent by the year 2030. But oil wells in Texas’ Permian Basin don’t just pump oil, they also produce large amounts of natural gas – which many companies aren’t equipped to handle.

That is posing a problem for Texas, as producers run out of capacity to move associated gas to market. Without reasonable action from the state’s oil and gas regulator, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), producers could resort to simply burning away excess gas – something we’ve seen in other oil fields where gas is not the primary production target.

This process, also known as flaring, is a recipe for widespread waste and pollution.

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Posted in Methane, Natural Gas, Texas / Comments are closed