Today’s Key Takeaway: Over 75% of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector can be avoided with existing cost-effective technologies and practices. Not to mention that a large majority of methane reduction in the oil and gas industry can occur at virtually no net cost because the gas that isn’t lost can be sold instead.
How industry can lead methane reduction
Sarah Jensen, Washington Examiner, December 18, 2023
Fifty oil and gas companies came together at this year’s United Nations climate conference in Dubai to pledge their commitment to reducing their methane emissions to near-zero by 2030, a clear signal that the oil and gas industry is willing and able to continue leading the way on this critical matter.
In the United States, the oil and gas industry accounts for an estimated 29% of total domestic methane emissions, second only to agriculture. This is a problem when considering the fact that methane is more than 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years. Basically, reducing methane now means less warming for us in the immediate term.
The great news is that many American oil and gas companies are already leading the way by voluntarily adopting practices that reduce their methane emissions. From 2019 to 2021, methane emissions intensity in the U.S. oil and gas industry declined 28% despite an increase in energy production. The oil and gas industry continues to look for ways to make further progress, and it is supportive of a smart, effective methane rule to help it do that.
The most recent Environmental Protection Agency rule to manage methane, released the same day as the oil and gas industry’s pledge to curb methane emissions, aims to push the industry to adopt advanced technologies to detect and repair leaks and reduce emissions during fuel transport. The result of an effectively implemented rule that works with the oil and gas industry could be cleaner, more secure, and more competitive energy production.
There are some concerns that this rule could harm energy production. Yet reducing methane emissions could be an opportunity to ensure energy security, create economic opportunity, and position the U.S. as a global leader.
The good news is that the rule empowers each state to create its own implementation plan to address existing methane sources, bringing into consideration local needs and circumstances. Conservative governors across the country will now have the opportunity to ensure a smart regulatory framework that will make their states more competitive on the national and international stage.
Addressing methane emissions doesn’t just benefit the environment. A little-known fact is that methane also represents wasted energy. In fact, inefficiencies in the oil and gas industry result in losing $2 billion worth of natural gas through methane venting, flaring, and leaking annually. Believe it or not, this is enough to heat 10 million homes for a year. In light of recent energy reliability challenges and unplanned blackouts, this is a significant amount of energy that could be powering homes instead of being lost to the atmosphere.
It doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, over 75% of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector can be avoided with existing cost-effective technologies and practices. Not to mention that a large majority of methane reduction in the oil and gas industry can occur at virtually no net cost because the gas that isn’t lost can be sold instead.
Reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas sector is particularly important in the face of international efforts to source oil and gas imports from countries with low emissions intensity. American oil and gas companies can become more competitive on the global stage by taking action to mitigate their methane emissions while creating more jobs and economic opportunity here at home.
Moreover, supplying our allies with cleaner American oil and gas exports is much better for the environment than relying on dirtier products produced in countries such as Russia .American oil and gas companies produce some of the cleanest fossil energy in the world and are actively working to do their part in mitigating emissions, including methane. They know firsthand the environmental, economic, and energy security challenges posed by methane emissions.
As this EPA rule is implemented, we must make sure that we are empowering, not ostracizing, the oil and gas industry to ensure real progress is made in this space.