Higher Production, Lower Emissions


Jun 13, 2024

Higher Production, Lower Emissions

A new analysis shows methane emissions from natural gas extraction nationwide decreased 37%, according to a Benchmarking Report of EPA data, even as production increased 40% (2015 to 2022). Greenhouse gas emissions (including carbon dioxide) also decreased, by 14%.

US oil and gas extraction/refining was estimated to release around 28% of US industrial-related GHG in 2023. Greener fossil fuel production and refining is a growing priority for governments and corporations. New EPA regulations are leading to adoption of lower-carbon technologies and processes as companies invest in monitoring and methane reduction.

Methane: Sources and Solutions

Available EPA data may underestimate actual methane emissions. Reporting is required only from some facilities, fugitive methane emissions from sites and wells may be undetected, and super emitter events are not always captured. However, the EPA data provides a baseline for industry emissions and reduction calculations.

In 2022, methane venting from equipment released five times more CO2 equivalent than reported fugitive methane. Pneumatic controllers are the primary vent source, but new facilities will not have them, and older facilities can be retrofitted with electric (grid/solar) and compressed-air or nitrogen-powered systems. The Environmental Partnership, an industry group, reported replacement or removal of ~114,000 gas-driven controllers (2018 to 2022).

Other potential sources of unmeasured fugitive emissions include orphaned and abandoned wells and well site equipment, such as storage and transmission systems.

At some oil production sites, ​“associated gas” is flared, as there is no infrastructure to process and sell it. New EPA rules will ban routine flaring of associated gas.

At production sites lacking grid power, diesel or produced fuel runs engines, pumps, and heaters. Combustion emissions increased 41% (2015-2022 study period). While there is a push by some to switch sites to electric via renewables, utilization of produced gas at the point of extraction prevents flaring/venting and potential losses/costs associated with transmission.

Permian Basin

The Permian Basin leads domestic shale oil production with total hydrocarbon production increasing over 300% and gas production by over 150% from 2015 to 2022.

Even with this production jump, Permian methane emissions decreased 16% by 2022, with some fluctuations during the study period. Regional operators reduced vented methane by 24% and fugitive methane emissions by 22%.

There is still room for improvement: Permian emissions from flaring in 2022 were double 2015 levels and combustion emissions nearly quadrupled. Generally, overall emissions intensity of Permian energy production decreased significantly. Gas extraction methane intensity shrank by 78%, and overall greenhouse gas intensity fell by 47%. Permian production is becoming more carbon-efficient as production increases.

Appalachian Basin

Appalachian natural gas development is also getting greener according to the report. Regional gas producers reduced methane intensity by ~17%, giving Appalachia the lowest methane intensity among major US basins.

Sustaining Progress

Oil and gas producers keep raising the bar to reduce methane emissions, using advanced technology and applying best practices for mitigation. Even with the advent of renewables, reduction in emissions from oil and gas production continues to be the most impactful way to provide clean energy today. Sealing fugitive emission sources and equipment innovations reduce methane and GHG intensity as the world relies on efficient and reliable US energy production.

For companies with methane leaks manifesting downhole, BioSqueeze provides innovative solutions for identifying and remediating a variety of well integrity challenges. Our solutions boast an industry leading success-rate ensuring predictable, cost-effective intervention to maximize the impact of available funding.

For more information on how we can help reduce emissions and restore well integrity complete the form below and our team will reach out to schedule a presentation and/or provide a complimentary review and recommendation to overcome your challenge.

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