GHG Emissions: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


Jun 01, 2023

Greenhouse gases (GHG), primarily CO2 and methane are released during extraction and production processes and through venting, flaring, and leaks.

Atmospheric methane breaks down more rapidly than CO2, but over a 20-year timeframe holds over 80 times more heat, and reductions are considered critical to slow climate change.

The Good: Proactive Emissions Reduction

Ceres and Clean Air Task Force, with analysis from ERM, today released the third annual report that shows the industry’s largest producers reduced both methane and carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 30% between 2019 and 2021, even as production increased.

Reductions in GHG intensity are achieved through company investment in operational process changes and equipment upgrades and maintenance.

The Bad: Highly Variable Efforts

While many are doing a great job to drive emissions down while continuing to supply vital domestic energy, there are huge variations in GHG emissions across companies:

  • Natural gas production – the highest-emitting quartile averages 26 times the methane intensity of the lowest quartile
  • Oil and gas production – the highest emitting quartile averages 13 times the GHG emission intensity of the lowest quartile

Emissions trends are inconsistent across basins, companies, and year-to-year tracking, making it hard to chalk discrepancies up to anything but a commitment to proactive reductions.

“Oil and gas producers are not equals when it comes to methane emissions, and this research makes clear that a company’s climate impact is a direct result of operational and investment decisions within its control. While a number of leading companies have brought their methane emissions down since our first report three years ago, the gap between leaders and laggards has actually grown. For the poorest performing operators, high leak rates are a choice. Recent majority votes on methane-related shareholder proposals, including one last month at Coterra, underscore the investor consensus that the companies that will be best prepared for a low-carbon future are the ones taking ambitious steps now to bring emissions down." - Andrew Logan, Senior Director of Oil and Gas, Ceres

The Ugly: Increased Regulations

Despite the best efforts and impressive results produced by many responsible producers, lagging emissions reductions from some are likely to lead to stricter state and federal regulations to force companies’ hands.

Several states have recently passed legislation raising the bar for emissions reductions during production and abandonment with the EPA also cracking down on wellhead emissions.

The Solution: Cost-Effective Reduction

Decreasing methane intensity is a sound financial move that benefits shareholders, company performance, and the environment. Steep decreases in GHG emissions are possible by leveraging smart engineering and innovative new technologies to maximize the impact of investment.

For eliminating methane leaks from oil and gas wells BioSqueeze provides a revolutionary new solution. BioSqueeze utilizes natural biomineralization technology to permanently seal leaks that commonly continue leaking after dozens of attempts with traditional sealants, saving time and money to stretch emissions reductions budgets