Energy Exchange

Buckle up: Methane monitoring is going mobile

A “better, faster, cheaper” methane leak detection solution used to be an elusive unicorn of the oil and gas industry. Yet, since EDF commenced its methane innovation work in 2014, there has been a mass proliferation of innovative methane detection companies, big and small. With new ideas and new technologies, innovators are challenging old assumptions and pushing the frontier of what is possible.

The Stanford and Environmental Defense Fund Mobile Monitoring Challenge launched in 2018 to independently and rigorously assess a selection of the most promising technologies available today to help oil and gas companies detect, pinpoint and estimate methane leaks from upstream production facilities.

The results of this challenge were published today in the journal Elementa — and the findings offer a glimpse towards a promising new era of higher frequency monitoring. Even as the Trump administration attempts to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency’s common-sense methane regulations, some companies are looking to innovative technology to go above and beyond what is currently required. The results are significant beyond U.S. borders as well. Numerous international oil companies, including the members of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, will require higher frequency, accurate methane monitoring to help achieve their methane reduction commitments.

Here are the three main takeaways from the Mobile Monitoring Challenge study.

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Also posted in Fourth Wave, Methane / Comments are closed

EPA’s proposal to rollback methane rules ignores scientific evidence, will lead to 5 million tons of methane pollution

By Rosalie Winn and Jessica Christy

Last week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler proposed to entirely eliminate regulation of methane pollution from the oil and gas sector. He also proposed removing all federal regulation for both methane and harmful volatile organic compounds from pipelines and other midstream facilities.

The proposal is an attempt to prevent any federal oversight of pollution from more than 850,000 older oil and gas facilities across the country, while removing additional safeguards for new sources in major swaths of the oil and gas supply chain.

The proposal targets previous rules EPA adopted to address air pollution from oil and gas facilities built or updated after 2015. These “new source” rules include commonsense requirements to cut both methane and VOC emissions across the upstream (production, gathering and boosting, and processing) and midstream (transmission and storage) segments of the oil and gas supply chain. While companies have been complying with these policies for years, the current proposal seeks to:

  1. Eliminate all methane standards across the oil and gas supply chain.
  2. Exempt facilities in the transmission and storage segment from any federal standards.
  3. Prevent any future regulation of pollution from “existing” sources built before 2015.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

How renewables, natural gas and flat demand led to a drop in CO2 emissions from the U.S. power sector

New state-by-state research shows significant reductions across the country from 2005-2015

Decarbonizing the power sector in the United States will be critical to achieving the goal of a 100% clean economy by 2050 – especially since reaching “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions across the economy means that other energy-using sectors such as buildings and transport will increasingly need to be electrified, switching away from direct fossil fuel use and relying on low-carbon electricity instead. Demand for electricity is therefore very likely to grow in the future – which makes it critical that its CO2 emissions sharply decrease through the accelerated deployment of low carbon technologies, such as wind and solar power, in the decades ahead.

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Also posted in Clean Energy / Comments are closed

New climate law, new opportunities for gas supply planning in New York

By Natalie Karas and Erin Murphy

New York recently enacted one of the most ambitious climate targets in the country. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires an 85% reduction in statewide greenhouse emissions by 2050 (from 1990 levels). All state agencies — including the New York Public Service Commission, which oversees utility companies — must now assess whether every decision they issue will, or will not, interfere with those emissions goals.

Meeting this bold new standard will depend heavily on the state’s natural gas utilities. That’s because residential and commercial heating are major contributors to the state’s greenhouse gas footprint. Unfortunately, utility companies today are continuing to rely on old assumptions, programs and ideas when making multi-billion dollar infrastructure investments that will last for decades. If allowed to continue, these investments will significantly hinder the state from meeting its climate goals, while locking in expensive and potentially unnecessary infrastructure for decades to come.

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Also posted in Methane, New York / Comments are closed

California implements revolutionary new utility model for gas leaks

It is widely expected that the Environmental Protection Agency will soon release a proposal to weaken methane standards from oil and gas production. Such a blunder would result in increased climate pollution, energy waste and regulatory uncertainty. So, while the federal government looks to take another step backwards on oil and gas climate pollution, California just took another big leap forward.

Last week, California’s Public Utilities Commission adopted a rule that not only implements a new way to look at methane emissions from utility systems, it fundamentally alters the utility business model for leak control and sets an approach for the rest of the nation to follow.

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Also posted in California, Energy Efficiency, Methane / Comments are closed

Pipeline damage prevention: A win-win for safety and the environment

By Mishal Thadani, Director of Market Development and Policy, Urbint

Every year in the United States, 400,000 excavation projects damage underground infrastructure like water and gas pipes and electric and cable lines. A strategic mix of best practices, good policy and artificial intelligence will drive that number down.

One of the advantages of burying critical infrastructure underground is that it keeps it safely away from people, cars and other things that could cause damage. Though unaffected by most day-to-day human activity, its concealment renders it highly susceptible to excavation damage like road work and construction. Not only can the damage be expensive and inconvenient, it can create safety and environmental threats for local communities.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration estimates that excavation damage caused more than 800,000 leaks on distribution pipes over the last 10 years. For natural gas pipes in particular, reducing damage is an opportunity to improve local safety while simultaneously decreasing the emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane / Comments are closed