Methane emissions from Permian on the decline
Methane emissions from the Permian shale basin, the most prolific US oil and gas reservoir, are lower than entire countries in some instances, a Texas production group said March 22.
Using data supplied by the World Bank, the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO), through its Texans for Natural Gas campaign, found that methane emissions intensity, a measure of methane emissions relative to oil and natural gas production, declined more than 70% through the eight years ending in 2019.
“This analysis makes clear the industry’s commitment to reducing methane and flaring in the Permian,” TIPRO President Ed Longanecker said.
If the Permian basin were a country, TIPRO found, it would not be in the top 30 in terms of methane emissions intensity. Russia, the second-largest natural gas producer, has levels 1.5 times higher than the US.
The decline in the environmental footprint came as US shale oil and gas production saw exponential gains over the reporting period. Longanecker said the energy sector has invested “billions of dollars” in strategies to lessen the environmental impact of fossil fuels.
“Rising use of natural gas to fuel power generation is also a key factor in the reduction of US emissions of carbon dioxide to the lowest levels in a generation,” he added. TIPRO did not offer information on absolute CO2 emissions from the Permian.
World Bank data ran only through 2019. The International Energy Agency (IEA) in January estimated that global oil and gas operations released more than 70mn metric tons of methane into the atmosphere last year.
Methane is a far greater contributor to global warming than CO2. The gains made in 2020, however, are set to be lost as production rises and economic activity recovers from the Covid-19 slump, the IEA said.
Reducing these emissions is very cost-effective, IEA found, as investing in leak prevention is rewarded with increased revenues from the gas that is saved.