Energy Exchange

Satellites become valuable new tool for governments, industry to cut emissions

For years, people used satellites to observe the Earth’s climate. Now, orbital sensing offers a crucial new way to protect it, by giving us new abilities to identify, measure, and ultimately verify cuts in emissions of methane – a highly potent greenhouse gas.

Two new pieces of research led by EDF scientists demonstrate the growing potential of space-based monitoring tools, and offer a preview of things to come when EDF launches its own dedicated methane satellite in 2021.

Offshore Flaring in Mexico

First is a paper published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, explaining how researchers used space-based readings to calculate the enormous volume of natural gas being burned off (or “flared”) by oil and gas platforms in the Southern Gulf of Mexico. From 2005 and 2017, data from NASA’s Aura satellite show that operators flared as much as 710 billion cubic feet of gas per year.

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No time to waste: What lies ahead in New Mexico on methane policy?

The Cabinet Room was buzzing with (clean) energy on Tuesday as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was joined by her Energy Minerals and Natural Resources (EMNRD) Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst and Environment Secretary Jim Kenney to sign one of the strongest climate executive orders in the nation.

Crucially, the order also directs New Mexico’s state agencies to move expeditiously and develop comprehensive, statewide methane regulations to cut energy wasted from the oil and gas industry and improve air quality.

Now the question becomes, “what next?”

Governor Lujan Grisham made her wishes for a speedy methane rule development clear in the executive order, directing her EMNRD and Environment Department to enact rules “as soon as practicable.”
And she set a high bar for the strength and inclusiveness of the methane rules when she said that, “Our goal is to eclipse states that are successfully doing this work.”

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Also posted in Air Quality, New Mexico / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

The oilfield digitalization opportunity executives can’t afford to miss

At the Baker Hughes GE Annual Meeting this week in Florence, Italy, a CEO began his presentation with this bold adage: “Digital strategy equals business strategy.” Executives on nearly every panel pointed to the digital opportunity.

As the oil and gas industry invests in the digital transformation to improve competitiveness, companies should seize the opportunity to integrate methane emissions management into their broader digital agendas, as a key way to maximize value and stay competitive in the low carbon energy transition.

Leveraging the transformation to tackle methane

The oil and gas industry is embarking on a holistic digital transformation, one that is disrupting virtually every facet of the business. Digitalization of the oilfield , which includes innovations such as automated asset management, predictive maintenance, and industrial internet of things (IIoT), has the potential to unlock tremendous value – up to $1.6 trillion.

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Also posted in Fourth Wave, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

ExxonMobil and Shell lead as counterparts lag on EPA’s first methane rollback proposal

By Ben Ratner and Rosalie Winn

Methane emissions from the American oil and gas industry waste valuable resources, accelerate climate change and severely cloud the credibility of natural gas in the low carbon transition. Unfortunately, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has proposed to weaken standards limiting pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities.

Companies across the value chain with a stake in the future of gas have an incentive to urge continued—and enhanced—nationwide methane regulation that helps industry as a whole improve. As EPA reportedly considers issuing an even more extreme, second proposal to eliminate methane regulation, some industry responses include promising signs of leadership that underscore just how out of step this administration’s attacks have been. Other responses (and non-responses) from industry have been more discouraging in supporting regulatory rollbacks that will increase harmful emissions and further call into question the role of natural gas as investors, customers and others demand cleaner energy.

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Conservative Wyoming rises to the occasion as feds roll over on oil and gas pollution

Lost amid the wrapping paper this holiday season was a very important move in Wyoming to step up and better regulate air pollution from the state’s oil and gas wells. It was one more reason to pop some champagne corks as we rang in the New Year.

Without much fanfare on Dec. 27, Wyoming finalized new requirements that will mean significant reductions in oil and gas air pollution – including methane – statewide. These newly finalized rules require oil and gas producers to regularly check new and modified oil and gas wells and associated infrastructure for leaks, an improvement that EDF and partners like the Wyoming Outdoor Council have been advocating for several years.

And beyond the holidays, the timing of this move could not be better. That is because while Wyoming is requiring twice-yearly leak inspections at new and modified well sites statewide, the Trump administration’s EPA is working to significantly weaken these same leak inspection requirements at the federal level.

The message here is clear: sensible requirements to regularly find and fix leaks make sense in conservative Wyoming, and they should all across the U.S.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Natural Gas, Wyoming / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2018

By Adam Peltz & Nichole Saunders

Keeping an eye on what happens with domestic oil and gas regulation is a bit like herding cats. We’ve seen encouraging progress on air quality issues related to oil and gas, but an equally critical front that’s seen major action is protection of our land and water resources.

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development but their practices and rules vary significantly. Add the recent attention around industry’s impact on local communities – from earthquakes and the risk of spills to increased traffic and local air pollution – and it’s easy to miss the big trends that dominated regulatory agendas in 2018.

EDF devotes a significant amount of time tracking this activity, and 2018 was a busy year. Over a dozen states completed rule updates and other types of improvements this year on a variety of topics.

Here are the big things we saw in 2018.

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Also posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Colorado, Natural Gas, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, produced water, produced water, State, Texas, Water, Wyoming / Tagged , , | Comments are closed