Nicole Jacobs, Energy In Depth | September 10th, 2021
The U.S. oil and natural gas industry is committed to reducing its environmental footprint through collaboration, investment and innovation, and as the Environmental Partnership’s latest annual report demonstrates, companies are seeing significant results from these efforts.
To-date, 94 companies are members of the Environmental Partnership representing 70 percent of U.S. onshore oil and natural gas production in 41 out of 50 states. These companies, which include both large and small operators as well as midstream companies, have replaced tens of thousands of components since 2018, finding an average leak occurrence rate of 0.07 percent. That’s less than one component leaking per thousand. As American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Mike Somers explained:
“[The Environmental Partnership’s] success doesn’t come a moment too soon. After all, climate change exists as the greatest challenge – and opportunity – for the current generation and those to come. Our industry has seized this moment by investing in strategies to both expand energy development and accelerate emissions reductions.”
In the last year alone, participating companies reduced average flaring intensity by more than 50 percent. Most importantly, this reduction was achieved while production remained consistent.
Best Practices and Innovation Reduce Emissions
Per the Environmental Protection Agency’s Natural Gas STAR Program, a key solution for reducing methane emissions is the retro fitment, maintenance, and improvement of pneumatic controllers – one of the largest sources of methane emissions across the oil and natural gas industry. The Environmental Partnership has spearheaded implementing these industry best practices and in 2020, more than 235 million component inspections were completed, more than 2,700 zero-emission pneumatic controllers were installed, and more than 9,200 controller devices were replaced or removed from service. Together, this greatly reduced member companies’ emissions from controllers and their environmental impact.
Innovation Through Learning and Collaboration:
A key component of the Environmental Partnership is its continued learning and collaboration. Through internal and external collaboration, the Environmental Partnership has been able to support new technology – such as Gas Mapping LiDAR technology – allowing companies to reduce their emissions and environmental impact. Notable collaboration this year included working with Colorado State University, Bridger Photonics, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Methane Source Finder team. As Environmental Partnership Chair Vanessa Ryan and Director Matthew Todd explained in a joint message:
“While the pandemic may have prevented us from hosting in-person workshops, it did not stop us from pushing forward with our core program principles of Learning and Collaborating. We continued our commitments to advance and improve cutting-edge methane detection technologies by funding operations and research at Colorado State University’s Methane Emissions Test and Evaluation Center. The ongoing collaboration will help the development of many new emission detection technologies and will be partly facilitated by the participating companies that are providing site access to conduct rigorous field testing this year.”
Despite the many obstacles and difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Environmental Partnership and its member companies pressed forwards reducing their environmental impact while delivering needed reliable energy to the country and world. As the report described:
“While much of life felt like it came to a standstill last year, The Environmental Partnership and its growing coalition of participating companies pressed forward to demonstrate the oil and natural gas industry’s commitment to reduce emissions and deliver improved environmental performance – by Taking Action, Learning, and Collaborating.”