Author Archives: Ben Ratner

Oil & gas CEOs up their methane pledge: Here’s what to watch for as promises turn to action

This post was co-authored by Drew Nelson

The CEOs of ten leading oil and gas companies today announced intentions to move toward “near-zero” methane emissions, pledging to set a quantitative reduction target by this time next year. At first blush, it might sound like a modest step – a promise to make a promise. In fact, the CEOs announcement constitutes an important and welcome recognition that oil and gas methane emissions impact the climate, are too high, and must be reduced. The new pledge comes just days after the International Energy Agency previewed its analysis showing that methane is a “critical issue for the long term natural gas outlook” and steep emission reductions are possible with today’s technology, and enormously cost effective.

From Social Issue to Business Issue

The 10 companies, which together are responsible for 20 percent of global production, joined forces three years ago to form the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. Last year, they invested $1 billion to accelerate commercial deployment of low carbon energy technologies. The new pledge is the next important step on the road to decarbonizing their operations, with methane playing a central role. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged | Comments are closed

Leading methane commitment from Exxon’s U.S. driller: Why it matters

The degree to which the oil and gas industry can be trusted to play a constructive role in a low carbon future depends in no small measure on whether and how it reduces climate pollution today. That’s why company insiders, investors, and policy makers should take careful note of the sensible and innovative commitments announced by XTO Energy, the ExxonMobil subsidiary that leads the United States in natural gas production.

The industry’s many outside stakeholders both in the U.S. and around the world are increasingly calling for emission reductions and greater commitment to cleaner production. Companies that heed those calls, and advance new technologies, will be much better positioned to answer society demands for responsibility.

Political Pendulum

Unfortunately, the current picture for much of the rest of the industry is less bright. Oil and gas trade associations—of which companies like Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil and many others are members—have  egged on a Trump administration ideologically bent on eliminating national methane safeguards. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Here’s how Chevron’s next CEO can turn over a new leaf

Chevron, the nation’s second largest oil and gas producer, is in the news this week as reports surface that long-time CEO John Watson is expected to step down. It’s no secret that Mr. Watson has too often lagged on his response to climate change. As the board selects a new CEO, it has a chance to turn a new leaf and move Chevron toward the right side of history on climate change, better positioning the company to address investor and social demands for cleaner energy and climate risk management.

Here’s what their new CEO should bring to the table:

A vision for how the company adapts and leads in the low carbon transition

Chevron withheld support for the Paris climate accord even as peers like Exxon and Shell supported it. Opposing the vast majority of the rest of the world is not an economically sustainable posture for a global company –and it creates unnecessary risks for shareholders. The board should select a CEO with a vision to adapt and lead in the transition to a cleaner energy economy. Simply acknowledging the reality of climate change is no longer enough – a 21st century energy leader also develops a sound business plan to navigate that reality and help the global community address one of its costliest challenges. Read More »

Posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

When Trump’s agencies undermine small businesses supporting responsible energy

Every physician would tell you that regular check-ups are important for your health, to catch problems before they become big issues, and to let you know that everything is in working order. Regular check-ups are also important for the oil and natural gas industry, whose leading actors benefit from periodic site inspections for natural gas leaks, which let product go to waste and pollute the air our families breathe.

Unfortunately, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt slammed the brakes on these regular check-ups for methane emissions (the main component of natural gas), when EPA announced its intention to freeze for two years safeguards that include a national standard for twice annual leak detection inspections at new well pads. And mere hours later, the Bureau of Land Management suspended waste prevention standards on federal and tribal lands. While these actions might initially be popular among some in the oil & gas community in Texas, the long-term repercussions will be severe.

With commodity prices recovering and a wave of development expected in the Permian Basin, the leak detection requirements were to take effect in time to support responsible development of new resources. Read More »

Posted in BLM Methane, General, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Three lessons industry should learn from surprising methane loss

 This post originally appeared on Forbes

Last week, the oil and gas lobby suffered a major and unexpected loss, when the Republican controlled Congress refused to eliminate the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) natural gas waste rule. While API has since requested a two-year stay in compliance, they should instead pause, learn the lessons presented by the CRA, and move forward according to the wishes of the American public.

Here are three lessons industry should learn.

1. They misread the mood of the American public

In the early days of the Trump Administration, its anti-climate, anti-environment agenda came into sharp focus. This looked like a golden opportunity to roll back environmental safeguards, including the BLM protections, which minimize the unnecessary flaring, venting, and leaking of natural gas on federal and tribal lands. With President Trump still in the early days of his victory, and single party control of both Houses of Congress, some saw a political opening, or even a voter mandate to weaken environmental protections.

But what they saw was a mirage: Absolutely no one voted for more pollution. Read More »

Posted in BLM Methane, Methane, Natural Gas| Read 1 Response

Trump Undermining Jobs That Conserve Natural Gas, But States Should Create Them

The biggest irony of the Trump Administration’s attack on environmental safeguards is that it will undermine a central promise of his candidacy: supporting boots on the ground, American jobs in growth sectors. One prime example? The emerging service industry that puts people to work finding and fixing harmful natural gas leaks.

American workers in the methane mitigation industry keep the product, methane (the main ingredient in natural gas), in the pipes and out of the sky. That’s a win for workers, who receive technology training, competitive wages, and opportunities for upward mobility. It’s a win for surrounding communities, as methane emission reductions also help keep smog-forming pollutants out of the air they breathe. It’s a win for oil and gas operators, which make operations more efficient and improve safety. And it’s a win for the climate, since methane is 84 times more potent in the near term than carbon dioxide.

In other words, if winning were more than a campaign slogan, supporting America’s methane mitigation industry would be an obvious opportunity to seize. Unfortunately, President Trump’s anti-jobs approach to undermining methane safeguards does just the opposite. Read More »

Posted in General, Jobs, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed
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