Energy Exchange

Curbing methane emissions is a climate opportunity for national oil companies

By Ratnika Prasad

The energy transition is accelerating, as social, political and economic pressures build on political and corporate leaders to meet the Paris goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius.

While carbon dioxide is often the focus, at least a quarter of today’s warming is caused by methane emissions from human sources. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the first two decades after its release, making methane reductions especially useful in slowing the rate of warming.

As a major source of global methane emissions, the oil and gas industry bears a special responsibility for urgent action to bring methane leakage and flaring under control. Some operators are embracing the challenge. However, barring a few exceptions, national oil companies — those that are fully or majority-owned by a national government — have largely lagged behind their privately owned counterparts.

A new report by Carbon Limits explores the critical role NOCs can play in mitigation of methane emissions. Over half of total global oil and gas production comes from NOCs, with an estimated 75% of industry’s methane emissions stemming from the countries they operate in, according to IEA data. This outsized relationship between emissions and production underscores the need for concerted action by NOCs to curb methane emissions.

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Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed

A U.S. economy-wide methane target: essential, achievable, affordable

The Biden administration is preparing to announce a new U.S. greenhouse gas emissions target for 2030 under the Paris Agreement — a pledge known as a Nationally Determined Contribution, or NDC — in advance of this year’s United Nations climate talks. Given the last four years of U.S. climate inaction and denial, it is important that the U.S. put forward an ambitious yet credible target and restore its position as a global leader on climate.

Although many countries pledge a single headline target that includes all greenhouse gas emissions, we believe that a complementary methane target is an essential addition that will considerably benefit the climate. Although it would include methane, a combined target is not sufficient to ensure that immediate and strong actions are taken to reduce methane emissions at the extent warranted.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Colorado’s landmark methane rules raise bar for federal climate action

Last month, Colorado regulators unanimously adopted nation-leading rules to cut methane pollution from pneumatic devices, an often overlooked but significant source of emissions from oil and gas production.

The commonsense standards drew support from the oil and gas industry and Colorado’s environmental community, and will require the use of modern, zero-emitting components at all new and most existing facilities statewide.  In 2019 EDF helped secure adoption of rules that require operators to find and fix malfunctioning pneumatic devices during their required leak detection and repair inspections.

As the Biden administration moves to get methane regulation back on track at the federal level, it should take note of the progress being made in Colorado. Robust federal methane regulations, identified as a priority in the president’s Jan. 20 executive order, will depend on these kinds of commonsense, high-impact solutions.

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Also posted in Colorado, Methane / Comments are closed

A year of data and one clear message: Permian flaring remains a major problem

By Colin Leyden and Ben Hmiel

Even amidst a global pandemic and market volatility that reduced oil and gas activity, at least one thing didn’t change in the Permian last year: operators can’t seem to keep their flares lit.

Throughout 2020, EDF conducted aerial surveys of portions of the Permian Basin to determine the performance of natural gas flares. Even when done properly, flaring is a wasteful, polluting practice that has earned industry “a black eye.” But when flares malfunction they also become major sources of highly potent, climate-polluting methane.

Over the course of 2020, we conducted periodic surveys of flares in various parts of the Permian. These took place in February, March, June and November, and included a series of consecutive, repeat surveys of one specific area on November 2, 4 and 6 meant to understand how long flare malfunctions persist. In total, we studied nearly 1,200 flares in the region.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, New Mexico, PermianMAP, Texas / Comments are closed

New report: Routine flaring in Texas’ Permian can be eliminated at little to no cost

A new analysis commissioned by EDF from Rystad Energy makes clear that flaring from Texas’ Permian oil and gas operations is persistent and is likely to increase in coming years as production rebounds from 2020, but that industry can eliminate most routine flaring at zero cost with simple rules and operator changes.

Following are key takeaways, but you can download Rystad’s entire report here.

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Also posted in Flaring, Methane, Texas / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2020

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development with a variety of practices and rules designed to reduce health, safety and environmental impacts. States engage in a process of continuous improvement by adopting new rules and practices as technologies and risk mitigation techniques evolve — even in an extraordinary year like 2020. EDF tracks state trends in oil and gas regulation related to the protection of land, water and local communities, reporting notable state actions each year.

2020 presented multiple challenges for the oil and gas industry and state regulators, including the twin shocks of an OPEC price war and a steep decline in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, many states showed strong commitment to ensuring environmental integrity by adopting critical new rules across a variety of topics.

Here are the big things we saw in 2020.

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Also posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, produced water / Comments are closed