This week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), issued a press release to announce state funding opportunities for reducing oil and gas methane emissions. The funding is intended to provide financial and technical assistance for monitoring and reducing methane emitted from both leaks and daily operations, as well as remediation and restoration of well sites.
NETL is expected to issue the Administrative and Legal Requirements Document (ALRD) in August 2023, and applications would be open for 30 days. This initiative is funded through the Clean Air Act (CCA), as amended by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The DOE/EPA partnership is intended to encourage operators to permanently plug marginal conventional wells (MCWs), to support environmental restoration, and to enhance capabilities for state and industry monitoring of methane and other emissions. MCWs are defined as “onshore, vertical oil or natural gas wells producing less than or equal to 15 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOED) and which are producing or idle wells with known operators.”
The total amount of grant funding is $350 million, to be allotted to qualifying states based on a formula that considers the number of state MCWs proportional to the U.S. total. States can use grant funds to increase monitoring of low production wells to prioritize mitigation work.
Once the ALRD is issued, states can apply by submitting a work plan (to be further detailed in a state guidance document) that meets requirements, including:
The DOE and EPA expect that 40% of the funding will benefit disadvantaged communities: Grant-funded projects will be required to track and share data related to environmental justice, community engagement and consent, equity, and employment opportunities.
Additional technical assistance for small/medium size producers in implementing cost-effective solutions to reduce methane is also available as part of this joint EPA and DOE effort, according to the press release. The EPA and DOE plan to help these smaller producers in “implementing and prioritizing best practices and mitigation decision-support tools.” The technical assistance is also intended to align efforts with affected communities and to “inform key decision-makers of mitigation opportunities across states, industry and other partners.”
Future EPA and DOE funding opportunities are planned, and will be open to a broader group of applicants. These projects will be focused on monitoring and mitigating oil and gas methane (and other GHGs) through deployment of advanced technologies and methods.
One such technology already being implemented in the field to de-risk abandonment of wells suffering from annular leaks and gas migration is BioSqueeze. BioSqueeze provides the most effective solution to sealing methane leaks in oil and gas wells having sealed over 100 wells in North America, many of which continued to leak after multiple attempts with various alternative technologies. BioSqueeze’s unrivaled success makes it the most economical method for addressing leaks in oil and gas wells.
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