Energy Exchange

Maximizing the historic job creation opportunity waiting in our nation’s old and leaking oil and gas wells

After over 150 years of boom and bust oil and gas development, there are over a million inactive, unplugged oil and gas wells across the country. A new study published in the journal Elementa describes how, when not properly plugged, these wells can contaminate groundwater and emit methane as well as harmful chemicals into the atmosphere that endanger the economy and public health in communities where they are found. It also provides suggestions for how to maximize the environmental benefits of efforts to plug these wells.

There are 57,000 documented “orphan” wells across the country, meaning they have no owner of record, at least not one that’s still in business, and hundreds of thousands more orphan wells that are not documented. State, federal and tribal governments are left with the responsibility of plugging these wells – some of which have been abandoned for decades.

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Also posted in Natural Gas, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

New innovative tool empowers utilities to reduce emissions in investment planning

By Erin Murphy and Christie Hicks

As the United States moves toward decarbonization, cities and states must use all means available to reduce climate pollution, and natural gas utilities should be at the forefront of this rapid energy transition. Gas utilities are the subject of increasing scrutiny because plans to expand and fortify their infrastructure could lock in greenhouse gas emissions and costs for decades. As the industry reckons with its role in a decarbonized future, advocates, utilities and regulators alike are calling for a carefully-managed transition that avoids costly long-term investments. New York has been at the forefront of this effort, seeking to balance ambitious climate goals with outdated natural gas investment planning processes.

To help utility planners align business decisions with environmental targets, EDF engaged MJ Bradley and Associates to develop the Gas Company Climate Planning Tool, an innovative new framework for New York and other states.

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Also posted in Gas to Clean, General, Natural Gas, New York / Comments are closed

Cutting methane emissions from natural gas gives EU global climate leverage

Policymakers around the world increasingly recognize that along with carbon dioxide, cutting emissions of methane is critical for reaching the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Methane is a key element in the reinvigorated U.S. climate strategy and — for the first time — discussed in China’s latest five-year plan.

Now the EU has a chance to significantly influence methane emission reductions not only within Europe, but globally.

Methane from human activities is responsible for at least 25% of today’s warming. One of the largest emitters is the oil and gas industry. The European Commission Methane Strategy released last October identifies the global oil and gas sector as the most cost-effective opportunity for methane emission reductions.

The key to the EU’s global methane leverage lies in the continent’s vast gas market. A new policy brief by the Florence School of Regulation and Environmental Defense Fund describes policy pathways to unlock the opportunity, while a separate analysis prepared for EDF by Germany’s Enervis Energy Advisors illustrates how a comprehensive policy could offer far-reaching climate benefits.

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Also posted in Europe, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Annular pressure monitoring and testing makes for safer wells

There are nearly a million active oil and gas wells in the United States, and if not correctly designed and maintained, they can leak harmful substances that will irreversibly pollute our land, air and water.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at data from over 100,000 wells and estimates that at least 14% experienced some loss of integrity, which could indicate a leak.

The study’s authors were able to determine the functionality and health of these wells based on data collected from annular pressure tests. In fact, the study analyzed almost 500,000 pressure tests conducted across three different basins — one of the largest studies of well integrity conducted to date.

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Also posted in California, Colorado, Natural Gas, New Mexico, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

From carbon accounting to carbon accountability: It’s time for banks to step up

The Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials recently welcomed its 100th member, a milestone that reflects banks’ growing focus on measuring financed emissions. But while robust carbon accounting is necessary for the long term, it is no substitute for action now. To pick up the pace of Paris alignment, banks must begin targeting financed emissions in carbon-intensive sectors immediately.

Improving data and disclosure is a valid long game, with mandatory climate risk disclosure and corporate leadership playing important roles. But financial institutions already have many of the tools and much of the data points needed to ramp up action in carbon-intensive sectors.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Congress should restore critical methane pollution standards

By Rosalie Winn and Raisa Orleans

EDF Legal Fellow Edwin LaMair contributed to this post.

Lawmakers last week introduced joint resolutions under the Congressional Review Act to restore widely-supported methane pollution protections and allow the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward swiftly with ambitious next-generation standards for new and existing oil and gas facilities. The move has received broad support from environmental groups and at least one industry trade group.

The resolutions have widespread support among both House and Senate leadership and will be fast-tracked in the coming weeks.

EPA first adopted the standards in 2016 to reduce the oil and gas industry’s pollution of methane — a potent greenhouse gas and the primary component of natural gas — along with other smog-forming and hazardous local air pollution.

Methane is responsible for a quarter of the warming that we are experiencing today, and the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane pollution in the U.S. Local health-harming pollution from the industry impacts more than 9 million Americans who live on the frontlines of oil and gas development. Read More »

Also posted in General, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed