Energy Exchange

Oil and Gas Industry Leaders Begin Waking Up, Stepping Forward on Methane

Vocal opposition from parts of the oil and gas business against policies to limit the industry’s heat-trapping methane emissions can sometimes obscure emerging efforts by some companies to tackle one of the sector’s biggest environmental and reputation challenges – and one that’s becoming ever more prominent by the day.

But not everybody in oil and gas is digging in their heels. In fact, there’s a growing list of companies working in various ways to start solving the problem. None of these initiatives alone is likely to get us where we need to be. But together they’re helping pave the way toward a more comprehensive answer that levels the playing field by creating sensible performance standards for everyone in the industry.

One of these emerging efforts is the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership, a voluntary effort to improve emissions reporting and accelerate best practices to reduce methane. Launched at the 2014 United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit, OGMP includes BP, Eni, Pemex, PTT, Repsol, Southwestern Energy, Statoil, and Total. The companies agreed to seek out ways to survey, assess and disclose their methane emissions, and find new opportunities to reduce them. Read More »

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Alberta and Canada Delivering on Methane, Delivers a Cleaner Future for All

alberta_drilling-wellConversations around climate change almost always involve carbon dioxide, with good reason. It’s essential to dramatically reduce this pollutant to drive down the total amount of climate warming our children and grandchildren will experience. But, what we’ve also learned over the last few years is that an effective climate strategy needs to do two things: Reduce cumulative warming and the speed at which this warming is happening.

Methane Matters

Next to CO2, methane is the most impactful greenhouse gas. While it breaks down faster in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, methane packs 84 times more warming power for the first 20 years after it’s emitted.

About one-quarter of the warming we are experiencing today is attributable to human emissions of methane, with the oil and gas industry its largest industrial source. Fortunately, there are cost-effective strategies to reduce methane emissions across the oil and gas industry. There is nothing as quick, easy, or cost-effective at slowing the rate of climate change right now than reducing oil and gas methane pollution. Read More »

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Industry Study Applies Own Numbers to EDF Study, Strengthens Our Case for Regulation

The natural gas industry group Our Nation’s Energy (ONE) Future Coalition released a paper yesterday applying their own set of assumptions to an earlier analysis commissioned by EDF, which had shown that oil and gas methane emissions can be dramatically reduced for about a penny per thousand cubic feet of gas sold. Both analyses were carried out by ICF International.

We always welcome new points of view, but it’s important to note the new calculations change key variables in ways that boost the cost of reducing methane emissions while significantly understating benefits of these reductions. An even bigger problem comes when others in the industry public relations machine start to mischaracterize the study.

Despite these changes, the results still end up making what we think is a strong case for sensible regulatory standards to make sure that best practices become the standard practice industry-wide in order to reduce the oil and gas industry’s nearly 10 million metric tons of yearly methane emissions.

Even Slanted Figures Underscore Need for Rules Read More »

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Tackling Methane Pollution Even When Oil and Gas Markets are Down

9148692_e7baa12adf_oWhen the White House confirmed plans to limit methane pollution from the oil and gas sector — not just from new or heavily modified facilities, but thousands of existing wells, pipelines and other facilities that are currently emitting at least 9.3 million metric tons of the invisible heat-trapping gas each year — industry responded with the usual complaints about back-breaking costs.

Unlike recent years, those objections come with a twist: The widespread (and very real) challenges in an oil and gas sector struggling with a global supply glut and sharply lower prices, both enabled by the same unconventional production technologies that fueled the boom in the first place. We simply shouldn’t impose new regulations in a down market, the industry says.

To be clear: There’s no disputing these are tough times for oil and gas. Hard working Americans have lost good jobs by the tens of thousands. Communities are suffering. It’s a cycle familiar to anyone who’s been around the industry, even if that doesn’t make it any easier on people living through it now. Read More »

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Do Lower Gas Prices Alter Conclusion of the ICF Study on Methane Reduction Costs?

hqdefaultLast week, the industry-sponsored Energy In Depth (EID) launched a critique of an analysis by ICF International showing that oil and gas companies can achieve major reductions in their methane emissions at relatively modest cost relative to the price of the natural gas they’re selling. In particular, EID emphasizes that natural gas prices have fallen substantially since the study was done, undercutting the result.

It’s true that natural gas prices have dropped, but the basic conclusion of the study still stands. While commodity prices fluctuate, the fundamental rationale for action hasn’t changed. In fact, over the same timeframe, EPA and other estimates of industry emissions have increased dramatically.

The bottom line is that reducing oil and gas methane emissions remains one of the biggest, most cost-effective opportunities we have for addressing climate change. Read More »

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When The Polluter Lobby Pollutes The Facts on Methane

The oil and gas industry emits at least 7 million metric tons of methane pollution into the atmosphere each year with a growing mountain of scientific evidence that suggests the real amount is actually even higher. Despite the fact that this pollution has an undue effect on global warming, the industry effectually wants us to “be ok” with this pollution.

The latest piece from industry lobbying group Energy In Depth (EID) claims that recent methane research finds “very low emissions,” and that regulatory action to reduce them further is unwarranted. It isn’t the first time we’ve heard this argument and for that reason, here’s a refresher on the facts.

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