Quantcast
Climate

Five Things to Watch as Industry Tackles Methane in 2018

As we close out 2017, we are energized by successes in our work with oil and gas industry partners. And as we look forward to a new year and a fresh start, here are five things we'll be looking for as industry leaders step up methane action in 2018.


1. Target Setting

This year, 10 leading companies through the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative supported the ambition of achieving "near zero" methane emissions, and committed to set quantitative methane targets in 2018. This is a big deal and one we pointed to as evidence industry is stepping up. 2018 will be a key year for follow through in establishing and announcing those targets. We will look for targets that are ambitious, innovation-forcing and linked to credible plans for verification. We will also look that this action addresses methane from both oil and gas, as the International Energy Agency's (IEA) data shows that more methane comes from oil production than from gas production.

While there are different formats and philosophies for target setting, aiming for absolute emission reductions—whether framed as a cap or percentage reduction from a specified baseline—keeps things simple and assures environmental results. In contrast, intensity-based target's reliance on production volume creates two difficulties—verification by civil society becomes even more difficult as non-public business activity data is needed, and the environmental benefit is uncertain because it fluctuates with production levels

2. Expansion of Global Action Plans

Companies like ExxonMobil committed to five principles to reduce methane emissions globally. This includes key actions like conducting "systematic monitoring," reducing purposeful venting and leaks of methane into the atmosphere, incorporating methane management into maintenance plans and new project design, and highlighting need for regulations.

2018 will be an important year for these multi-national corporations to develop and implement plans to instill methane management as a key part of how they do business all around the world. As companies undertake their action plans, it will be necessary to complement a laser focus on their own operations with a holistic outreach approach that matches the scope of change needed. That's why engaging partners across the value chain, joint ventures and others should also become a priority.

3. Championing of Government Policy and Regulations

Industry leadership on climate must include supporting government action, because as the IEA noted, even strong voluntary efforts—while important—are not sufficient. And the absence of a level playing field rewards the worst actors. This is true for methane as well. In 2017, senior executives from companies like BP, Shell and Exxon committed to support methane policy and regulations, including having their companies work with governments and NGO's in development and implementation of policies.

Even as the Trump administration targets sensible methane safeguards, 2018 will likely bring policy-making opportunities in other venues, such as Pennsylvania, Canada and Mexico. Gone must be the days of industry attacking climate policy through national and state trade associations. Leading companies will be increasingly accountable to support government action that addresses harmful emissions.

4. Technology Breakthroughs

Unlocking breakthroughs in new technologies and approaches to reduce emissions has the potential to cut more emissions at even less cost, helping industry to make good on ambitious targets and commitments. One key metric to watch is the level of monetary support that the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative provides to methane projects in 2018. Although the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative has $1B, of which several hundreds of millions are expected to go to methane, the initial round of supported projects in 2017 did not include anything methane related. That needs to change in 2018.

The Environmental Defense Fund's new collaboration with Stanford and industry advisors focuses on demonstrating new methods to rapidly detect and quantify methane leaks, for example by drone, aircraft or truck. We are nearing completion on a very competitive application season, and next year will look closely at the results of Stanford field testing, to understand which mobile technologies hold potential to replace or enhance traditional approaches to leak detection.

And, 2017 was a breakthrough year for stationary monitoring—with Statoil, Shell and PG&E stepping forward to conduct pilots. 2018 will be an important year to spread learnings from 24/7 monitoring and to expand deployment of this emerging best management practice.

5. Enhanced Disclosure

With industry's reputation at stake in the expanding effort to control methane emissions, enhanced disclosure will be vital to secure public trust, to encourage action by the next wave of energy companies, and to help governments establish sensible emission limits. "Trust but verify" is the watchword, and companies stepping forward will have the onus on them to demonstrate follow-through.

Some companies have begun the journey of disclosing their methane management, but disclosure remains a work in progress even for the leaders, while industry laggards still say little or nothing about their methane management. 2018 must bring progress. The EDF/PRI Investor's Guide to Methane is one resource that operators can consider as they take their methane disclosure to the next level. More companies joining and reporting on their emissions through the UN's Oil and Gas Methane Partnership is another way to increase reporting.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
Pexels

Tackling Climate Change Requires Healing the Divide

Canadian climate change opinion is polarized, and research shows the divide is widening. The greatest predictor of people's outlook is political affiliation. This means people's climate change perceptions are being increasingly driven by divisive political agendas rather than science and concern for our collective welfare.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Westend61 / Getty Images

EcoWatch Gratitude Photo Contest: Submit Now!

EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Pexels

10 Chefs Bringing Forgotten Grains Back to Life

Millets are a staple crop for tens of millions of people throughout Asia and Africa. Known as Smart Food, millets are gluten-free, and an excellent source of protein, calcium, iron, zinc and dietary fiber. They can also be a better choice for farmers and the planet, requiring 30 percent less water than maize, 70 percent less water than rice, and can be grown with fewer expensive inputs, demanding little or no fertilizers and pesticides.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Háifoss waterfall is situated near the volcano Hekla in the south of Iceland. FEBRUARY / Getty Images

The Essential Guide to Eco-Friendly Travel

By Meredith Rosenberg

Between gas-guzzling flights, high-pollution cruise ships and energy-consuming hotels, travel takes a huge toll on the environment. Whether for business or vacation, for many people it's not realistic to simply stop traveling. So what's the solution? There are actually numerous ways to become more eco-conscious while traveling, which can be implemented with these expert tips.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Animals
Freder / E+ / Getty Images

Surprising Study: Orangutans Are Only Non-Human Primates Who Can 'Talk' About the Past

We already know that orangutans are some of the smartest land animals on Earth. Now, researchers have found evidence that these amazing apes can communicate about past events—the first time this trait has been observed in a non-human primate.

A new study published in the journal Science Advances revealed that when wild Sumatran orangutan mothers spotted a predator, they suppressed their alarm calls to others until the threat was no longer there.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Suicide rates are highest for males in construction and extraction; females in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media, the CDC found. Michelllaurence / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

CDC: Suicide Rate Among U.S. Workers Increasing

From 2000 to 2016, the suicide rate among American workers has increased 34 percent, up 12.9 per 100,000 working persons to 17.3, according to a worrisome new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Workers with the highest suicide rates have construction, mining and drilling jobs, the U.S. health officials reported Thursday.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
PG&E received a maximum sentence for the 2010 San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion. Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Report: 90% of Pipeline Blasts Draw No Financial Penalties

A striking report has revealed that 90 percent of the 137 interstate pipeline fires or explosions since 2010 have drawn no financial penalties for the companies responsible.

The article from E&E News reporter Mike Soraghan underscores the federal Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) weak authority over the fossil fuel industry for these disasters.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Nevada Test and Training Range. U.S. Air Force / Airman 1st Class Kevin Tanenbaum

U.S. Navy Proposes Massive Land Grab to Test Bombs

Friday the U.S. Navy released details of a plan to seize more than 600,000 acres of public land in central Nevada to expand a bombing range. The land under threat includes rich habitat for mule deer, important desert springs and nesting sites for raptors like golden eagles.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!