Energy Exchange

Methane: Europe’s missing link for effective energy decarbonization

The EU Sector Integration Strategy, expected in June, has become the top energy policy issue this year, and it will define the role of gas in Europe’s current and future transitions.

In recent weeks, there have been increasing calls for Europe’s gas decarbonization to focus on hydrogen and renewable gases, while saying very little — if anything — about energy-related methane emissions. Yet according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reducing methane is a critical complement to reducing carbon dioxide emissions if we are to reach our greenhouse gas reduction goals and stabilize the climate.

The commission’s plan thus far seems to be taking a cross-sector approach in addressing methane emissions across energy, agriculture and waste. It is sensible, given that human-made methane emissions from oil and gas, agriculture and other sources are responsible for over a quarter of the warming our planet is experiencing now.

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However you measure it, Permian oil and gas operations have highest emissions ever measured in a U.S. oilfield

Two fundamentally different methods EDF is using to measure and understand methane emissions in the Permian Basin are producing strikingly similar results. The mutually reinforcing sets of data — one gathered using aircraft, the other by satellite — each show that oil and gas operators in the region are releasing more than 3.5% of the natural gas they extract from the ground into the atmosphere as methane pollution.

That’s roughly twice the average rate found in 11 other major U.S. oil and gas basins. The wasted gas in the Permian is enough to supply 2 million American homes for a year.

The first of these efforts is EDF’s year-long PermianMAP, which tracks emissions from the ground and in the air, and takes the unprecedented step of publishing data online in near-real time to help industry and officials reduce those emissions, while letting the public see the results. The other is the first peer-reviewed scientific study to take direct measurement of Permian emissions, using the European Space Agency’s TROPOMI instrument.

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CalSTRS says climate is major portfolio threat, companies must walk the walk on net-zero

A few weeks ago, EDF’s Ben Ratner spoke extensively with Brian Rice, a portfolio manager at California State Teachers’ Retirement Systems about key issues in environmental social and governance investing.

CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world with roughly $243 billion in managed assets. EDF has been working closely with the firm on corporate engagement for more than five years.

This is the first of a two-part Q&A series with CalSTRS examining prospects on ESG and climate investing through the energy transition. This portion of the discussion explores the rise of ESG, the importance of policy, and what comes next for companies with net-zero commitments.

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Big step back: Changes in new EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory mask methane emissions

For years, experts have urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to improve the way it estimates methane emissions from the oil and gas sector to reflect major advances in the peer-reviewed scientific understanding of how much methane is escaping from each link in the industry’s complex supply chain. Bringing agency methods into line with this science would yeild better, more accurate accounting, and it would almost certainly show that actual emissions are much higher than previously indicated.

Instead, EPA has gone in the exact opposite direction, making a million metric tons of methane pollution disappear from the books with the stroke of a methodological pen.

The EPA’s latest inventory released this month, incorporated data from a new study for the gathering segment, but this study uses “bottom-up” measurements that scientists say are likely to systematically underestimate emissions rather than incorporate “top-down” approaches that rely on atmospheric science, and which extensive research has shown to be far more accurate.

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Satellites and state regulators: New data spotlights extreme emissions and need for action in nation’s largest oilfield

By Jon Goldstein and Colin Leyden

This week a study drawing on nearly a year’s worth of satellite data revealed that Permian methane emissions are the highest ever measured from a U.S. oil and gas basin.

As the federal government continues its rollback of methane safeguards, public attention is now trained on policymakers and companies in Texas and New Mexico — two leading oil producing states that straddle the Permian Basin.

While New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham forges ahead on nation-leading rules to curb oil and gas methane waste and pollution, state leaders in Texas have yet to get serious about a problem that could undermine the industry’s viability in an economy that increasingly prioritizes cleaner sources of energy.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico, PermianMAP, Texas / Language: / Comments are closed

Now more than ever, it’s time for strong EU standards on methane emissions

As European Union leaders begin the transition from COVID-19 rescue to economic recovery, the need to build back better is taking center stage. Already, national governments representing over 65% of the EU’s population have insisted that leaders stick with the European Green Deal. Their resolve underscores the importance of leadership, resilience and science-based decision making in the face of the gravest health emergency of our time.

These national governments know that the EGD will help usher in a thriving, sustainable European economy that creates good jobs for working people. And they understand the tragic lesson of the COVID-19 crisis: that all nations must heed scientific warnings about public health and security. The scientific community’s clarion call on climate change, and the role of methane pollution in driving near-term warning, should be at the top of the agenda.

For the oil and gas industry, this means that a key component of the post-COVID recovery is the establishment of stringent standards to certify very low methane emissions for all gas used in the EU. Without such standards, the case for “cleaner-burning” natural gas evaporates; over the first 20 years, methane is 80 times more potent than CO2 in driving planetary warming. That’s why the European Commission’s forthcoming methane proposal presents a window that energy companies must take — and an ESG opportunity that investors cannot afford to ignore.

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