“Three Amigos” Talk Methane; ONE Future Has a Way Forward

July 1, 2016

At the “Three Amigos” summit this week in Ottawa, Canada, President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and Mexican President Peña Nieto announced a coordinated plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the three countries.

As a part of the North American Climate, Clean Energy and Environment Partnership, Mexico will join the U.S. and Canada in a pledge to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40-45% by 2025.  The primary avenue for reducing emissions will be by targeting leaks from oil and gas infrastructure.  In addition to the greenhouse gas emissions reduction, the three leaders also announced that half of North America’s electricity will be generated by clean power sources by 2025.  That figure currently sits at 37%, according to the U.S. State Department.

Reducing methane is good for the environment and good for business—and there is room for improvement along the natural gas value chain.  That’s why ONE Future has advocated for and aspires to reach our ultimate goal of a natural gas delivery system that is 99% (or more) efficient. We’re also investing in new energy infrastructure and advanced technologies to also support better methane data collection.

For these reasons, the three North American leaders’ commitment to reducing methane emissions should be applauded.  However, as this new ICF study shows, it is important to approach methane abatement with an emphasis not only on the areas of the value chain that allow for the greatest reductions, but also where you can get the best bang for your buck.

In short, an abatement strategy should not be one-size-fits-all.  The best approach to lowering methane emissions should be founded on a performance based program that allows for flexibility and for companies to determine where exactly in the supply chain emissions can be most effectively reduced.

By using new data from the ICF study, individual companies can map out the best way forward to reduce emissions, identifying the greatest opportunity for abatement and developing technology to target those areas.  This will ultimately deploy capital in the right areas and lead to the greatest overall reductions in methane.

As the United States, Canada and Mexico further develop plans to cut greenhouse gases, hopefully market realities and available abatement technologies will inform their process for reaching our shared goal of lowering emissions.  Prescriptive regulations are not the answer, but a flexible and responsible pathway forward is.

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.