Energy majors commit to reducing methane emissions

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

EIGHT global energy majors have committed to reducing methane emissions from their natural gas assets and to encouraging others to do the same.

The CEOs of BP, Eni, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Shell, Statoil, Total and Wintershall met to sign the Guiding Principles document on 22 November. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and if natural gas is to fulfil its role in meeting energy demand while the world transitions to a low-carbon energy market, methane emissions from the production value chain must be reduced.

The Guiding Principles document was developed in collaboration with eight environmental organisations – the Environmental Defense Fund, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Gas Union, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative Climate Investments, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Sustainable Gas Institute, the Energy and Resources Institute, and United Nations Environment Programme.

There are five main principles. The first is to continually reduce methane emissions, including monitoring emissions and prioritising work at the higher-emitting facilities. The signatories agree to reduce venting and fugitive emissions, and to develop and support, both operationally and financially, new emissions technologies.

The second principle is to advance strong performance across gas value chains. The eight companies involved will engage with upstream midstream and downstream participants to study methane emissions and work with industry partnerships and trade associations to improve methane emission management.

The companies will also improve the accuracy of methane emissions data, advocate sound policy and regulations, and increase transparency in emissions data reporting.

“The commitment by companies to the Guiding Principles is a very important step; we look forward to seeing the results of their implementation and wider application. The opportunity is considerable – implementing all of the cost-effective methane abatement measures worldwide would have the same effect on long-term climate change as closing all existing coal-fired power plants in China,” said Tim Gould, head of supply division, World Energy Outlook, IEA.

Article by Helen Tunnicliffe

Senior reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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