Energy Exchange

BP, Shell and investment giants call for Texas zero flaring regulations. Will others follow?

The first time I saw a natural gas flare in the oilfield was in 2015. Our team at Environmental Defense Fund was beginning to study methane emissions and collaborate with companies to solve the problem. Early one morning, we loaded into a van with industry collaborators and technology entrepreneurs, venturing out into the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas.

Outside the van windows, flares dotted the landscape. A company representative explained that natural gas, or methane, was being burned on the spot rather than sent on for productive use in the economy. Why? Because there was no infrastructure in place to handle the gas coming from the region’s wells, most of which were built to produce only oil for market.

The good news, he explained, was that the problem was just temporary. Infrastructure would soon catch up with oil well drilling. The flares would soon be extinguished for good.

But more than five years later, flares are still burning nonstop.

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

Climate, capital and COVID: What’s an energy executive to do?

Mark Brownstein co-authored this post.

We’re hearing more oil and gas companies pledging to reinvent themselves for a new, low carbon energy era. This conversation is unfolding as those same companies grapple with massive impacts of the global pandemic, as well as competitive challenges from cleaner, often cheaper alternatives that had been gaining steam well before the current crisis.

So how can investors and other stakeholders tell which companies are genuinely rising to the occasion? Each producer is going to have to find its own way to navigate the profound transformation of their industry and still make money doing it. But we think there are four key elements (below) that every company must engage to compete in this decade and beyond.

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Posted in General / Comments are closed

CalSTRS investor: Access to capital will tighten for oil and gas companies sidestepping climate

We’re back with the last in a two-part series on prospects for ESG and climate investing between EDF’s Ben Ratner and Brian Rice, a portfolio manager at California State Teachers’ Retirement Systems, the world’s largest educator-only pension fund with roughly $243 billion under management.

After exploring the importance of climate policy and net-zero corporate planning in the first Q&A, the discussion turns to oil and gas. The experts examine this historic moment for the industry, and how escalating climate pressures will profoundly affect energy markets and the companies that power them.

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Posted in California, Clean Energy, Climate, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

A zero flaring policy is long overdue, and investors can help make it reality

As investors take a hard look at the U.S. energy sector during this time of volatility, natural gas flaring is one of the most important and immediate risks to manage.

The eyesore of the oilfield, flaring natural gas destroys shareholder value and creates environmental, social and governance risk — exactly the kind of problem that an increasing number of asset managers, investment banks, and even private equity firms have promised to address.

Routine flaring is damaging the environment in several ways. In addition to the CO2 emissions from combusted gas, flares can release significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere. EDF’s recent helicopter survey found that more than one in every 10 flares at oil and gas sites across the Permian Basin was either unlit — venting uncombusted methane straight to the atmosphere — or only partially burning the gas they were releasing. In fact, the survey suggests that flaring could be among the region’s largest sources of fugitive methane and a troublesome contributor to local air pollution.

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Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico, PermianMAP, Texas / Comments are closed

A bright future for continuous methane detection

Over the last decade, a trove of scientific studies has established that not only are methane emissions from oil and gas operations a major contributor to climate change, but also that they are severely underestimated and underreported.

EDF has been at the forefront of research to detect and quantify the magnitude of oil and gas methane emissions. And we’ve also helped develop solutions that make large-scale emission reductions easier, faster and cheaper. A new initiative led by The University of Texas at Austin called Project ASTRA is a promising, multi-year experiment with the potential to build on and complement other efforts aimed at scaling global reductions of oil and gas methane emissions.

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Posted in Methane, PermianMAP / Comments are closed

CalSTRS says climate is major portfolio threat, companies must walk the walk on net-zero

A few weeks ago, EDF’s Ben Ratner spoke extensively with Brian Rice, a portfolio manager at California State Teachers’ Retirement Systems about key issues in environmental social and governance investing.

CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world with roughly $243 billion in managed assets. EDF has been working closely with the firm on corporate engagement for more than five years.

This is the first of a two-part Q&A series with CalSTRS examining prospects on ESG and climate investing through the energy transition. This portion of the discussion explores the rise of ESG, the importance of policy, and what comes next for companies with net-zero commitments.

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Posted in California, Climate, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Comments are closed