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    [Premium] NOCs Start Signing Gas Guiding Principles


Two NOCs in the space of two weeks have signed up to a set of Guiding Principles on reducing methane emissions from the entire natural gas chain.

by: Mark Smedley

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Middle East, Carbon, Political, Ministries, Environment, Qatar, Russia

[Premium] NOCs Start Signing Gas Guiding Principles

Two national oil and gas companies (NOCs) have announced in the past two weeks their signature to a set of Guiding Principles on reducing methane emissions from the natural gas chain, from production to end-consumers. Until this month, only eight IOCs had signed up.

Qatar Petroleum (QP) is the latest, signing the document March 22 at a ceremony in Doha also attended by Shell CEO Ben van Beurden. QP CEO Saad Sherida al-Kaabi said that as the world’s largest LNG producer, QP had been committed to environmental practices and had invested in the Jetty Boil-Off Gas Recovery Project, one of the biggest of its kind. (Van Beurden, left, and al-Kaabi are shown above at the March 22 event, photo courtesy of QP.)

BP, Eni, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Shell, Statoil, Total and Wintershall signed up November 22 2017 to the Guiding Principles. Russian state-controlled Gazprom announced March 19 it too had signed up. The ten are the only signatories to date. QP said that the principles rest on continually reducing methane emissions, advancing strong performance across gas value chains, improving the accuracy of methane emission data, advocating sound policies and regulations on methane emissions and increasing transparency.

Mark Radka, head of the UN Environment Programme’s energy and climate branch, said he was delighted that QP had joined this effort, but has no explanation for why two NOCs had joined in the space of a week. He told NGW March 28: “I wouldn’t be at all surprised if other NOCs, and even other IOCs, were to join. I am very encouraged by this.”  Signatories agree to go out and publicise the Guiding Principles, he said, but tend to keep their cards close to their chest about who might join next, while talks are ongoing. So far only ExxonMobil has yet signed up among US majors, he acknowledged, leaving firms such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips and others outside.

Radka said the principles stress both action and reporting: “We [at UNEP] are firm believers that reporting is a good thing.” “If natural gas is to play a role in the energy transition or be a bridging fuel, then it rests on its environmental integrity,” he said, adding that the public tends to judge the industry as a whole.

The 'guiding principles' 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 UNEP. Six of the eight original members are also members of the OGCI, the most notable exception being ExxonMobil.

Radka said that the guiding principles initiative operates alongside both the OGCI initiative, and also the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. The OGCI's advisory group meeting held a meeting in Paris, March 27, to discuss what scientific studies its $1bn fund should bankroll. 

There is also the ongoing World Bank-backed Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) partnership, which appears to be morphing into the 'Zero Routine Flaring by 2030' Initiative, which was launched 2015. 

Radka said there is an effort to bring rationality into various efforts, with companies not always aware of what they are signed up to. Work is underway to be more efficient about reducing emissions, and not to duplicate efforts or work at cross-purposes, he added.