Energy Exchange

Latest research leaves questions about some sources of atmospheric methane unsettled, but need to act remains

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A pair of new scientific papers published in the journals Nature and Science argue that levels of so-called fossil methane coming from naturally occurring sources — underground seeps, volcanoes, and so forth — are much lower than previous estimates, and that human-made emissions from the fossil energy industry account for a much larger share of the global methane budget.

The widely reported findings arrive in the midst of a robust debate among researchers in which a great deal is still unsettled. Whether these latest findings eventually prove correct remains to be seen. But the ongoing discourse leaves no doubt about the continued need to dramatically reduce the vast amounts of methane that we know are currently emitted by oil and gas production and distribution.

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Posted in Methane / Comments are closed

What’s increasing global methane levels? New research examines role of U.S. shale gas.

By Stefan Schwietzke and Steven Hamburg

A decade of extensive scientific research has demonstrated that methane emissions from the oil and gas supply chain have been substantially underestimated and has placed pressure on governments and industry to act. Because of methane’s potency and the feasibility and cost efficiency for reducing emissions of it, methane presents among the most powerful opportunities we have to slow the rate of planetary warming in our lifetimes.

Still, methane research continues — the more precisely we can identify global emission sources and quantify their volume, the more precise and effective mitigation efforts will be. And as this challenge is examined by different teams with different methods, we sometime have to address discrepancies among the results. Such is the case with two new papers that examine the proportion of rising atmospheric levels of methane associated with shale gas production in the United States. We know oil and gas methane emissions are higher than previously thought — and the scientific debate surrounding these papers is about where the global increases in emissions are coming from.

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Posted in Methane / Comments are closed

Exxon methane proposal shows promise, but misses the mark on rigor, reductions

It’s big news when one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies announces it supports hard and fast regulations to reduce its industry’s methane emissions. And it deserves to be, since methane pollution is supercharging the climate crisis and enforceable, comprehensive regulations are the only proven way to make a significant dent in this problem.

However, go a level deeper on the Model Regulatory Framework Exxon unveiled this week and it quickly becomes clear that the specific strategies it proposes lack the ambition needed to dramatically reduce oil and gas methane emissions industrywide. Far from a nationally leading set of proposals, if implemented, they would actually be weaker than the methane standards currently in place in several leading states as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s current requirements.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Comments are closed

The defining decade for oil and gas in the energy transition

Business as usual for the oil and gas industry is over. Investor confidence is flagging just as the talent pool shrinks and competition from cleaner energy sources intensifies. Pressure on companies to respond to the climate crisis to maintain their future viability has never been higher.

BP’s recent “net-zero” announcement is a case in point. And though time will tell whether BP delivers on its ambition, CEO Bernard Looney deserves credit for putting his company on the right path. It’s critically important — for the planet and the entire industry — that other energy companies meet or beat the mark of BP’s ambition, and that all turn their sights next to implementation.

As BP’s new plan changes the conversation in boardrooms around the world, energy companies that are serious about performing while transforming will need to step up in four areas. Here’s what to watch for as industry’s defining decade begins.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Demonstrating with data: Shifting the oil and gas industry from awareness to action on methane emissions

In 10 short years, the climate impact of methane emissions from the oil and gas industry has moved from abstract understanding to a widely-recognized fact. Scientific studies conducted around the world have quantified the risk that methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, poses to climate.

Studies have also demonstrated that the oil and gas supply chain is among the largest industrial sources of methane and that reducing oil and gas methane is one of the most immediate and cost-effective ways to limit near-term climate warming today.

Some in industry have begun to respond. Companies like BP and Shell, and coalitions like the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative and One Future have committed to methane reduction targets and begun public reporting. Meanwhile, a group of companies, working with the United Nations Environment Program, European Commission, EDF and others have raised the ambition of another multi-stakeholder initiative — the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership — to improve the scope and rigor of methane management and reporting.  These commitments are important, especially when they are made publicly and demonstrate the oil and gas industry’s commitment to playing a role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

If the 2010s was a decade of awareness and words, the 2020s must be a decade of action and results. We must move past press releases announcing that companies will reduce methane emissions and begin seeing and believing they are actually doing it.

EDF’s new whitepaper, Hitting the Mark: Improving the Credibility of Industry Methane Data, provides industry a roadmap to the most critical piece of genuine methane action: good data. Hitting the Mark follows the 2018 publication of EDF’s Taking Aim, which presented criteria for establishing an environmentally ambitious methane target. Read More »

Also posted in Natural Gas / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2019

By Adam Peltz and Nichole Saunders

Regulating the day-to-day details of an oil and gas operation can be a complex task, with both regulators and operators working hard to prevent leaks, explosions and other threats to worker safety, community health and the environment. As we learn more about technical advancements in the oilfield as well as risks from various aspects of production, it is vital that the regulations requiring best practices are kept up to date.

EDF believes this process of continuous improvement is foundational for protecting land, water and communities from development-related impacts. That’s why we track what states are up to on a consistent basis. Building on our review of state progress toward this goal in 2018, we’ve gathered up the big changes states made this past year and assessed the trends.

Here are the big things we saw in 2019.

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Also posted in Natural Gas, produced water / Comments are closed