1. Methane is a supercharged climate pollutant
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas packing a climate punch 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is released. More than a third of the climate impact we feel today is caused by short-lived pollutants, including methane, which accounts for most of that amount. These emissions are worsening already extreme weather patterns responsible for more frequent, higher intensity storms. And, in the absence of action, these trends are expected to accelerate.
2. The oil and gas industry is responsible for over 7 million tons of methane pollution
The U.S. oil and gas sector is estimated to release more than 7 million metric tons of methane emissions into the atmosphere each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Read More
When operators pull oil out of the ground, it often comes up with copious amounts of natural gas. This “associated gas” can be captured and brought to market, creating an additional revenue source for operators. But if no gathering infrastructure or other methods of capture are deployed, operators either vent the gas to the atmosphere or burn it off with controlled flares. Venting results in the release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Flaring results in troublesome emissions as well, including CO2 and hazardous air pollutants.
According to the Wyoming Oil and gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC), Wyoming’s oil and gas operators vented and flared more than five billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2014. Five billion cubic feet of gas that could be sold to generate taxes and royalties, heat homes and power machinery across the country, instead was wasted. Read More
Regulators Bless Plans to Use Information Developed by Environmental Defense Fund and Google in $900M Pipeline Upgrade Program to Improve Safety, Reduce Waste and Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions
New York and New Jersey, like many older communities in the US, have thousands of miles of old, leak-prone gas lines under their streets, some dating back to the late 1800s. Besides safety concerns, this leaking natural gas – which is mostly methane – is a potent greenhouse gas and a huge waste that’s ultimately paid for by utility customers. While major leaks posing immediate risk are typically fixed quickly, thousands of others can persist for months or years.
Until now, it’s been hard to measure the problem on a large scale, or to use that information to better focus on upgrades with the biggest benefit for the buck. Read More
Also posted in Climate, Methane
Mexico is getting good news today about a strategy it can use to help meet its 25% greenhouse gas reduction pledge by 2030. A new report conducted by energy research firm ICF International found that by using available and low-cost technologies, Mexico can cut 54% of its methane emissions from the oil and gas sector for less than one peso per ton of carbon dioxide. Not only does this keep a very potent greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere, methane is 84 times more powerful than CO2 in intensifying warming, but by capturing it, methane is the main ingredient in natural gas, Mexico wastes less energy.
The Mexican government showed leadership in recognizing the importance of reducing short-lived climate pollutants like methane in its climate pledge to the UN Climate Change Conference. And ICF’s study suggests that reductions in oil and gas methane emissions can be a valuable tool as Mexico considers how it will implement policies to meet its goal. Read More
Also posted in General, Military
Each year, the oil and gas industry produces more than 800 billion gallons of wastewater. Coupling the massive volumes of wastewater generated over the life of the well and the millions of gallons of water needed to hydraulically fracture each well, it’s easy to see that oil and gas exploration and production is just as much a water issue as it is an energy issue.
With growing frequency, this huge volume of oil and gas wastewater – which contains hundreds of chemicals resulting from operations as well as underground water that is usually heavily laden with salt and naturally-occurring pollutants – is being recycled, and some groups are pushing for mandatory recycling policies. Sounds great. After all, recycling is good for the environment, right? Read More
Dr. Jason Gu was still a graduate student when he developed the technology behind SenSevere, a start-up that creates laser-based gas sensors for use in heavy industry and power plants. Today, he’s working to apply this technology to methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, making him one of the many entrepreneurs developing solutions to tackle the problem. His fascination with innovation isn’t just making his clients more efficient—it may also be saving the planet.
The hidden cost of methane
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a powerful pollutant responsible for a quarter of the global warming we feel today. The oil and gas industry releases 7 million tons of it into the atmosphere every year through emissions from oil and gas fields and associated pipelines, resulting in over a billion dollars’ worth of wasted American energy resources. And, toxic chemicals like benzene, a known carcinogen, can accompany methane emissions, posing a potential threat to public health.
“The industry is beginning to become more sensitized to the fact that methane is an aggressive greenhouse gas,” said James Armstrong, president of Apogee Scientific, a Colorado-based methane mitigation company. For more than 15 years, Apogee has manufactured a methane detection system that uses a vacuum and infrared sensors and can be mounted to trucks, ATVs and helicopters to identify leaks in the field. “If you find the leaks and repair them, you’re not only helping the environment…you’re extending the resource.” Read More