The natural gas industry lauded the results of a second methane emissions study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin (UT) and sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund as proof that producers are leading the effort to reduce emissions.
Howard Feldman, director for regulatory and scientific affairs at the American Petroleum Institute (API), said efforts by the industry to reduce emissions by investing in new technologies and equipment are bearing fruit.
"This latest study shows that methane emissions are a fraction of estimates from just a few years ago," Feldman said. "The industry will continue to make substantial progress to reduce emissions voluntarily and in compliance with EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] regulations that will be fully implemented by January. Methane is natural gas, so capturing more methane is helping operators deliver more natural gas to consumers."
According to API, the UT study indicates that methane emissions from the development and production sectors of the natural gas industry have declined from previous studies. The industry group said methane emissions now represent only 0.38% of production.
UT released the study, the second of a two-part series, on Tuesday (see related story); the first part of the series was published in September 2013 (see Shale Daily, Sept. 17, 2013). API said the latest UT study also shows methane emissions are 10% lower than those recorded in the earlier study.
Last Friday, America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) released a statement and a graphic stating that the natural gas industry has cut methane emissions by 17% since 1990. During that same time frame, the industry increased production by 37%.
In a separate statement Tuesday, ANGA Vice President Erica Bowman said producers have reduced methane emissions by 25% during the aforementioned time frame. ANGA spokesman Dan Whitten explained to NGI's Shale Daily that the 17% reduction is based on the entire natural gas supply chain, while the 25% figure is based solely on production.
"If you look at that whole [graphic], it does spell it out," Whitten said Tuesday, adding that there was a 25% reduction in methane emissions from production, a 22% reduction from distribution sources, and a 12% reduction from transmission sources.
Last month, the EPA rolled out new requirements for the industry to monitor methane emissions and submit the data in an annual report to the Obama administration (see Daily GPI, Nov. 17).