Energy Exchange

What to watch for as methane targets become the new normal

Last October, the 10 CEOs of major oil and gas producers, including BP, China National Petroleum and Saudi Aramco, announced an aspiration to reach near zero methane emissions from their companies’ natural gas value chains. They pledged, as part of their participation in the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), to work together on a target that would deliver on this future by the time they reconvened for their next annual event.

Because that anniversary is right around the corner, it’s timely to revisit an analysis EDF released this year – with support from several leading investors and industry experts –that lends key criteria for companies to craft robust methane targets, and for stakeholders to evaluate them.

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Methane rollbacks create moment of truth for oil and gas executives

How top energy companies engage in the U.S. methane policy debate in the coming weeks may tell us a lot about the future of natural gas.

As these companies have themselves recognized, the role of natural gas in a world that can—and must—decarbonize depends on minimizing harmful emissions of methane from across oil and gas production and the natural gas value chain. But a recent comprehensive study involving dozens of leading academics and companies around the country found that U.S. methane emissions from industry are 60 percent higher than prior estimates—enough to double the climate impact of natural gas.

Such wasteful emissions leak away the potential climate benefits of natural gas, threatening the credibility of executives making the case to institutional investors and society that natural gas can meet what some industry leaders have deemed the “dual challenge” of meeting energy demand while reducing emissions.

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How the conversation changed at this year’s World Gas Conference

For years, conversations at major oil and gas industry conferences focused on one thing: the shale revolution. Excitement about the surge in economical new supply of unconventionally produced oil and gas was palpable, as panelists spoke of the potential for shale to transform everything from the geopolitics of American energy supply to the price of hydrocarbons. With such an unexpected and seismic change, a supply side story carried the day, with a focus on “below ground” drivers of energy abundance.

But today, the shale revolution is simply the new normal and the conversation has changed. “Above ground” factors like increasing competition from renewables, greenhouse gas emissions, and social license to operate will affect demand for natural gas for years. How industry confronts such challenges – both in the United States and internationally – will have a lot to do with industry’s longevity in putting resources to productive use in a changing world demanding cleaner energy.

At last week’s World Gas Conference in Washington, DC, difficult questions swirled about whether industry has done enough to earn society’s trust and prove natural gas has a constructive role to play in the transition to a low carbon economy. The biggest buzz of all surrounded one key issue: methane emissions, a core strategic challenge for the oil and gas industry.

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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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Sitting down with BP to discuss its new methane target

As part of its Energy Transition report, BP announced a stringent new quantitative target to address its emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas pollutant. Effective immediately, BP will target limiting methane emissions from its global upstream oil and gas operations that market natural gas to 0.2 percent. Ben Ratner, Senior Director with EDF+Business, sat down with Paul Jefferiss, Head of Policy, BP, to learn more.

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As API changes leaders, it must change leadership

With Jack Gerard stepping down as head of the American oil and gas industry’s most powerful trade association, industry has an important opportunity to change with the times.

The oil and gas industry and its ecosystem are evolving rapidly before our eyes. Technology improvements allow ever more efficient production. Resource discovery in areas like the Permian Basin unlock opportunity and drilling activity that few ever thought possible. But the most profound change is happening above ground—the steadily growing calls for climate action by investors, governments, corporate energy users, and society at large.

The future of industry—its very prospect of surviving, let alone thriving, in a decarbonizing world—depends on its ability to meet society’s demands, not just for energy, but for leadership.

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Posted in Natural Gas, Washington, DC / Tagged | Comments are closed