One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Reduce Methane Emissions is Inefficient, Costly

June 29, 2016

As we highlighted earlier this month, an honest debate on methane emissions is one that should be driven by science, objectivity, and logic in determining the best path forward in our quest to further reduce emissions. Hyperbole, politics and broad-brush statements – that are free from fact or science – must be left at the door if advocates and activists are truly interested, as we are, in reducing methane emissions in a manner that make sense for the environment and for business.

Last week, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a paper called “Who’s Who of Methane Pollution in the Oil and Gas Production Sector,” which claims that one-size-fits-all blanket regulations on all existing petroleum and natural gas infrastructure are absolutely necessary to achieve methane reduction goals. As the report puts it,

“The best way to curb these emissions is for the EPA to set strong mandatory standards for existing sources in the oil and gas sector in order to complement the new source standards finalized in May 2016.”

This claim, while a rallying call by those who are advocating for the elimination for clean-burning natural gas, is a claim that is strongly contradicted by actual science and field data as concluded in a recently released ICF International study that was commissioned by ONE Future.

To be clear, ONE Future’s unwavering commitment to achieving a natural gas value chain that is 99 percent efficient will significantly enhance our environment through the efficient deployment of resources that will focus on deploying technologies that will provide the best environmental return on investment.

Using 2012 EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory emissions data — the latest available at the time — as its baseline and a $3.00/Mcf natural gas price ($2.25/Mcf – 25% royalty and fee payments) that is reflective of current and near-term forecasted prices, ICF International ran its marginal abatement cost (MAC) model and found that 88.3 Bcf of methane could be reduced at a cost of $296 million/year or $3.35/Mcf.

Importantly, despite the best efforts by some, this new ICF report does not attempt to justify dismissing mitigation opportunities due to cost. Instead, the objective was to provide data that will help companies achieve maximum reductions in the most cost-effective manner possible.

In fact, the data from the study will help us reach our goal of achieving an emissions rate of one percent or less of production. It will also complement the our companies’ continued participation in the Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program, a voluntary partnership between industry and the EPA that has already proven, cost-effective, performance-based methane reductions from natural gas operations can be achieved. Since the inception of the STAR program 23 years ago, U.S. companies have eliminated more than 1.2 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of methane emissions by implementing approximately 150 cost-effective technologies and practices.

We as a coalition are absolutely committed to reaching a methane emissions goal of 1 percent of production or less – and our hope is to do so in the most cost-efficient manner possible, which will benefit all parties involved. This ICF study offers a rational and realistic road map toward achieving that goal.

About ONE Future: ONE Future is a coalition of companies from across the natural gas industry focused on identifying policy and technical solutions that yield continuous improvement in the management of methane emissions associated with the production, processing, transmission and distribution of natural gas.