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    Eight Companies to Cut Methane Leaks


Eight energy producers have committed to further reduce methane emissions from the natural gas assets they operate around the world, adopting guiding principles.

by: William Powell

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Eight Companies to Cut Methane Leaks

Eight energy producers – UK BP, Italian Eni, US ExxonMobil, Spanish Repsol, Anglo-Dutch Shell, Norwegian Statoil, French Total and German Wintershall – have committed to further reduce methane emissions from the natural gas assets they operate around the world, they said November 22. The energy companies also agreed to encourage others across the natural gas value chain – from production to the final consumer – to do the same.

They have signed up to so-called 'guiding principles' that were developed in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund, the International Energy Agency, the International Gas Union, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) Climate Investments, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Sustainable Gas Institute, The Energy and Resources Institute, and United Nations Environment Programme. Six of the eight are also members of the OGCI, the notable exception being ExxonMobil.

The producers said the commitment was made as part of wider efforts by the global energy industry to ensure that natural gas continues to play a critical role in helping meet future energy demand while addressing climate change. Since natural gas consists mainly of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, its role in the transition to a low-carbon future will be influenced by the extent to which methane emissions are reduced. Awareness of methane leaks, and the ability to monitor them remotely, have been part of the problem for an industry that had imagined that 'clean' gas would have a guaranteed role in power generation and heating.

They principles commit them to: "continually reducing methane emissions; advancing strong performance across gas value chains; improving accuracy of methane emissions data; advocating sound policies and regulations on methane emissions; and increasing transparency."

“Numerous studies have shown the importance of quickly reducing methane emissions if we’re to meet growing energy demand and multiple environmental goals,” said Mark Radka, Head of the UN Environment Programme’s Energy and Climate Branch. “The Guiding Principles provide an excellent framework for doing so across the entire natural gas value chain, particularly if they’re linked to reporting on the emissions reductions achieved.” 

“Our analysis at IEA shows that credible action to minimise methane emissions is essential to the achievement of global climate goals, and to the outlook for natural gas,” said Tim Gould, Head of Supply Division, World Energy Outlook, IEA. “The commitment by companies to the Guiding Principles is a very important step; we look forward to seeing the results of their implementation and wider application. The opportunity is considerable – implementing all of the cost-effective methane abatement measures worldwide would have the same effect on long-term climate change as closing all existing coal-fired power plants in China.”