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Energy Industry-Led Coalition Aiming to Kick Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Chain

An industry-led consortium, initially led by Cheniere Energy Inc., Chevron Corp., Equinor ASA, ExxonMobil Corp. and Pioneer Natural Resources Co., plans to advance methane science to better combat global emissions from the natural gas value chain from production to end-use.

The Collaboratory for Advancing Methane Science (CAMS) would pursue scientific studies that focus on methane emissions detection, measurement and quantification, with the goal of finding opportunities for reduction.

“As a leading energy company, we are committed to continually reducing methane emissions,” said XTO Energy’s Sara Ortwein, who is president of the ExxonMobil onshore subsidiary. “The right partnerships are critical for success, and participating in CAMS will expand industry learning on solutions that can make a difference.”

XTO has reduced methane emissions from its operations by an estimated 9% since 2016, Ortwein said Monday at the week-long World Gas Conference (WGC), which kicked off in Washington, DC.

Of XTO’s reductions, about 4%, or more than 7,200 metric tons of methane, was achieved through a voluntary program and other operational improvements, she said. Across ExxonMobil operations, the reduction equates to a 2% reduction.

To date, XTO has phased out around two-thirds of existing high-bleed pneumatic devices across its U.S. operations. Low-emission design technologies are also being deployed in new developments, such as in the Permian Basin in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico. For example, in April, XTO launched a pilot program at its James Ranch facility in New Mexico to evaluate technologies to reduce emissions.

GTI, aka the Gas Technology Institute, is serving as program administrator for CAMS. Plans are to expand participation beyond the initial industry participants that work across the natural gas value chain. Through scientific studies, CAMS would bring together a diverse group of experts from industry, academia, and federal/state agencies “to deliver factual data that can be used to inform regulations and policy development.”

GTI would manage the overall program, including individual research projects. CAMS members, with input from an independent scientific advisory board, would prioritize and fund research. CAMS is to focus on effectively communicating findings to program stakeholders and the general public. Results are to be independently published by the research project team in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

“This is an important collaboration between industry, academia, government, and researchers,” said Equinor’s Amol Phadke, vice president, safety and sustainability for U.S. and Mexico operations. “It is a great opportunity to work together in understanding emissions across the value chain, giving us a more complete picture of how we can continue to reduce methane from our operations.”

Cheniere’s Chris Smith, senior vice president for policy, government and public affairs, said, “The use of natural gas is already reducing carbon dioxide and traditional air pollutants in the United States and around the world, but further reduction of methane emissions greater amplifies the positive impact of natural gas.”

Cheniere, through the Sabine Pass operations in Louisiana, became the first liquefied natural gas exporter in the Lower 48.

“Supporting peer-reviewed science is an important first step as we look for ways to encourage the reduction of methane emissions throughout the domestic natural gas value chain,” Smith said.

The research would complement recent methane emissions studies sponsored by government agencies and academia, and build on their lessons. New tools and technologies to better detect leaks and characterize emissions are to be evaluated, with practical solutions identified.

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