Selected category: Methane

Vastly underreported emissions in Alberta’s oil patch reveal excessive natural gas waste

Alberta’s oil and gas industry is emitting at least 25 to 50 percent more methane than current estimates suggest, according to a new peer-reviewed study. Published in Environmental Science and Technology, a clear pattern of energy waste is occurring across Canada – a problem worth a minimum of $530 million dollars (CAD) of natural gas a year, or enough gas to heat nearly every home in Alberta.

Researchers indicate that the volumes of methane – the main ingredient in natural gas and a powerful climate pollutant – observed in Alberta are higher because two key emission sources, unintentional leaks and intentional venting of methane, are happening at rates much larger than the oil and gas industry reports.

This is not the first scientific study to draw this conclusion. The Carleton University research builds on previous studies underscoring the climate risks of an unabated methane gas problem, but widespread leaks and persistent venting are making the problem worse. Canada’s oil and gas industry is already the country’s largest source of methane emissions.

Aside from the energy loss and climate concerns, numerous pollutants laced with these emissions are known to degrade air quality, worsen smog and harm public health. Yet, many low-cost solutions are in hand to solve this problem. Read More »

Also posted in Natural Gas| Comments are closed

A timeline of Zinke's crusade against methane rules

Here’s a newly-minted cabinet secretary charged with managing 20 percent of the American landscape on behalf of taxpayers and 567 Native American tribes – presented with an opportunity to save his stakeholders millions without lifting a finger.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, inexplicably, is rejecting this broad public relations win to instead go to bat for the worst actors in the oil and gas industry who only focus on their own short-term bottom line.

Zinke is trying with all his might to halt an Obama-era rule that will reduce wasteful leaking, venting and flaring of natural gas on federal and tribal lands.

On the lands in Secretary Zinke’s charge, oil and gas companies waste around $330 million worth of natural gas annually. That’s enough gas to meet the heating and cooking needs of 1.5 million American homes – or every home in Chicago.

Such waste on land administered by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management also results in the needless emission of methane, volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants, all of which are threats to human health and the environment. Read More »

Also posted in BLM Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

What’s new for the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program?

This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posted the 2016 Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) data online. While there are positive trends in the type of data included and the ways that data are measured, the general picture is of an industry with many remaining opportunities to reduce emissions.

The GHGRP is an emissions reporting program for large facilities that emit more than 25,000 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalents (MT CO2e) of methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The data provided by the GHGRP are invaluable for understanding the sectors and sources responsible for GHG emissions and can guide the design of effective policies for reducing emissions.

Additionally, EPA has been incorporating GHGRP data into the Greenhouse Gas Inventory, an annual report that estimates U.S. GHG emissions. In 2016, 7,631 facilities reported emitting almost 3 billion MT CO2e GHGs. After power plants, which are responsible for 63% of reported emissions, the oil and gas (O&G) sector is the largest source of GHG emissions. This year there are three major changes to the reporting protocols for oil and gas facilities. Read More »

Also posted in Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Methane leadership is a competitive advantage, says global investor

Early oil and gas industry adopters of methane management strategies and technologies are starting to see these reductions as an opportunity to gain a competitive edge.

Just last week, ExxonMobil announced  a new methane reduction program for its XTO Energy subsidiary, underscoring that the industry is paying close attention to the issue.

Methane, the main ingredient in natural gas, is leaked and vented across the oil and gas supply chain every day as the world energy mix shifts towards greater natural gas usage, according to the International Energy Agency. The oil and gas industry wastes billions of dollars a year of methane that simultaneously acts as a climate change accelerator, harming the brand of natural gas as a cheap and clean fuel source. Methane is 84 times more powerful as a heat-trapper than carbon in its first 20 years in the atmosphere.

In the second part of Environmental Defense Fund’s recent interview with Tim Goodman, Director of Engagement at London-based Hermes Investment Management, Goodman shares his views on why oil and gas companies addressing methane emissions are gaining a competitive edge, and how investors are paving the path for more companies to follow suit. (You can find the first part of the interview here.) Read More »

Also posted in Natural Gas| Comments are closed

NASA helped locate over 300 methane hot spots across California

Last week the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and California Energy Commission (CEC) released interim results from a NASA study that offers the most clear-eyed assessment yet of California’s largest individual sources of methane pollution.

Methane – a potent greenhouse gas responsible for about a quarter of global warming – is emitted from several different sources, including refineries, landfills, dairy farms, and oil and gas facilities. This new study identifies 329 of the largest pollution sources and offers insights to policy makers about opportunities for reducing these emissions.

Here are four key takeaways from the latest research.

California must focus on super emitters to cut pollution

Previous studies in other regions have shown that when it comes to methane, a small set of high-emitting sites, known as “super emitters” tend to be responsible for a significant amount of total emissions. The new CARB study suggests the same is likely occurring in California (measurements of actual amounts of the methane will be released in the second phase of the project next year).  Many times these super emitters occur randomly, such as when a major piece of equipment breaks and releases a large amount of pollution. Other times, as this study shows, these sites can be landfills, dairy farms, and refineries that simply release a lot of pollution.  Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

In tackling methane, Exxon signals commitment to maximize opportunity for New Mexico

An announcement last week from one of the country’s largest natural gas producers may have a major positive impact on revenue and clean air in New Mexico. XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil that made a $6 billion investment in acreage in New Mexico’s Permian Basin earlier this year, has now announced a set of commitments to “continually reduce methane emissions” from its production and midstream operations nationwide.

In making the announcement, XTO CEO Sara Ortwein made special note of the methane actions’ impact in the Permian, stating, “In particular, we’re looking forward to applying this approach to our planned expansion in the Permian Basin in New Mexico and West Texas.”

The XTO methane mitigation commitment includes a plan to find and fix methane leaks through inspections using technologies at both existing and new facilities. Further, building on a successful technology pilot project in the nearby Midland Basin, XTO will also focus on emission prevention, moving toward the use of new, less polluting devices for tank batteries and other facilities. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, General, Natural Gas| Comments are closed
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