Quantcast
Business

Study Shows Oil and Gas Industry Can Reduce Methane Emissions By 40 Percent

After analyzing data and commentary from producers, pipeline operators, equipment vendors, service providers and more, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and ICF International conclude that the onshore oil and gas industry could collectively reduce methane emissions by at least 40 percent below 2018 projections.

According to a report released Monday, the organizations say that could be accomplished by adopting nearly a dozen emissions control strategies across 19 different sources within five years. The most economical of these measures could save the industry a combined $164 million per year.

As people across the country continue advocating for fracking bans, methane emissions are one of the main problems associated with this dangerous practice. For example, there are more than 51,000 fracking wells that leak methane in Colorado, the state where groups recently launched a state ballot initiative that would give residents control over whether to allow fracking in their communities.

The report's suggested measures include shifting to lower-emitting valves—or pneumatics—that control routine operations, as well as improving leak detection and repair to reduce unintended methane leaks from equipment, which are also known as “fugitives.”

"Even absent methane leaks—which countless studies show are very significant—natural gas cannot save us from climate catastrophe," said John Armstrong of Frack Action. “As studies looking only at the carbon dioxide footprint of natural gas have shown, continuing and expanding natural gas production is a one-way street to calamity. Further, fracking contaminates people's water, poisons their air and makes them sick.

"All told, fracking is an inherently bad technology and not a solution to our climate problem."

After taking a look at the report, Colorado environmental activist Gary Wockner said that the savings earned from controlling some leaks likely would not be enough to combat emissions from so many fracking wells in his state.

"If EDF really wants to address the global threat of climate change, they need to support fracking bans and a massive shift away from all fossil fuels," he said.

Here are a few of the study's key conclusions:

  • Methane emissions from oil and gas activities are projected to grow by 4.5 percent from 2011 to 2018. Nearly all of the projected net growth is from the oil sector, mostly from flaring and venting of associated gas. Nearly 90 percent of the emissions in 2018 will come from sources that existed in 2011.

  • 22 of the more than 100 emission source categories account for more than 80 percent of the emissions in 2018, primarily at existing facilities.

  • A 40-percent reduction in onshore methane emissions is projected to be achievable with existing technologies and techniques at a total net cost of 66 cents per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) of methane produced, or less than 1 cent per Mcf of gas produced, taking into account savings that accrue directly to companies that implement methane reduction measures.

  • If the full economic value of recovered natural gas is taken into account, including savings that do not directly accrue to companies implementing methane reduction measures, the 40-percent reduction is achievable while saving the U.S. economy and consumers more than $100 million per year. The cost for some measures and segments of the industry is more or less than the net total. The initial capital cost of the measures is estimated to be about $2.2 billion with the majority of the costs in the oil and gas production segments.

“ICF’s in-depth analysis points out the vast potential this nation has to address one of the key environmental issues confronting U.S. oil and gas development,” EDF President Fred Krupp said. “We now have a clear path to protecting American communities and the global climate from methane pollution—and it turns out to be an extremely low-cost path.

"This report is a call to action for common-sense policymaking and accelerated industry leadership starting now.”

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. NPS

MLK National Park to Re-Open Despite Shutdown, Thanks to Delta

Hats off to Delta Air Lines. The company's charitable arm awarded the National Park Service an $83,500 grant to help reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta from Jan. 19 through Feb. 3 in honor of Dr. King's legacy.

The Atlanta-based airline was inspired to act after learning that some of the park's sites, including Dr. King's birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Fire Station No. 6 and the visitor center, were closed due to the partial government shutdown, now on its 28th day, according to LinkedIn post from Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Chris So / Toronto Star / Getty Images

Nebraska Lawmakers Want to Ban the Word 'Meat' From Vegetarian Substitutes

By Dan Nosowitz

Nebraska is the country's second-leading producer of beef, and is in the top ten of pork producers.

Keep reading... Show less
Insights/Opinion
A northern cardinal and finch in the snow. Mark Moschell / Flickr

Is Winter Miserable for Wildlife?

By Bridget B. Baker

While the weather outside may indeed get frightful this winter, a parka, knit hat, wool socks, insulated boots and maybe a roaring fire make things bearable for people who live in cold climates. But what about all the wildlife out there? Won't they be freezing?

Anyone who's walked their dog when temperatures are frigid knows that canines will shiver and favor a cold paw—which partly explains the boom in the pet clothing industry. But chipmunks and cardinals don't get fashionable coats or booties.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A green sea turtle, one of the animals whose population has increased because of Endangered Species Act protections. Mark Sullivan / NOAA

Marine Mammals and Turtles Protected by the Endangered Species Act Are Bouncing Back

The Endangered Species Act works. That's the conclusion of a peer-reviewed study undertaken by scientists at the Center for Biological Diversity and published in PLOS ONE Wednesday.

The study looked at 31 populations of 19 species of marine mammals and sea turtles in the U.S. that had been granted endangered species protections and found that around three-quarters of them had increased in size.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Students demonstrate in Brussels Thursday calling for climate action. NICOLAS MAETERLINCK / AFP / Getty Images

12,000+ Belgian Students Skip School to Demand Climate Action

Around 12,500 Belgian students marched in Brussels Thursday, joining a growing movement of young people around the world who have started skipping school to demand climate action.

"There is actually no point going to school if our world is going to die," 16-year-old demonstrator Mariam told BBC News in a video.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
A prototype of GE's massive new wind turbine will be installed in the industrial area of Maasvlakte 2 in Rotterdam. GE Renewable Energy

World's Largest Wind Turbine to Test Its Wings in Rotterdam

Rotterdam's skyline will soon feature the world's largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine.

GE Renewable Energy announced on Wednesday it will install the first 12-megawatt Haliade-X prototype in the Dutch city this summer. Although it's an offshore wind turbine by design, the prototype will be installed onshore to facilitate access for testing.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Insights/Opinion
Colorful, fresh organic vegetables. fcafotodigital / Getty Images

A New Diet for the Planet

By Tim Radford

An international panel of health scientists and climate researchers has prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, whole grains and pulses, give up sugar, waste less and keep counting the calories.

And if 200 nations accept the diagnosis and follow doctor's orders, tomorrow's farmers may be able to feed 10 billion people comfortably by 2050, help contain climate change, and prevent 11 million premature deaths per year.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Children's books about the environment. U.S. Air Force photo / Karen Abeyasekere

This State Might Require Public Schools to Teach Climate Change

Reading, writing, arithmetic ... and climate science. That doesn't have the same ring as the "three Rs" of education, but Connecticut could one day require the subject to be on the curriculum, The Associated Press reported.

A Connecticut state lawmaker is pushing a bill to mandate the teaching of climate change in public schools throughout the state, starting in elementary school.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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