Devon Energy Corp., one of the largest Lower 48 independents, said Monday it is establishing a  voluntary, company-specific target to reduce methane emissions for its oil and natural gas production operations.

By 2025, the Oklahoma city-based operator plans to achieve a methane-intensity rate of 0.28% or lower. In 2018, Devon’s methane-intensity rate was estimated at 0.32%, which is pending Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review and third-party verification.

“By continuing to operate responsibly and increasing our focus on leak detection and repair, we’re confident we can meet this ambitious target,” said CEO Dave Hager. “The actions we’re taking reaffirm our commitment to responsible production operations, going beyond what is required by law in pursuit of continuous improvement in environmental performance.”

Setting a methane-reduction target “signals the next step in Devon’s continuing proactive pursuit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reaffirms the company’s commitment to protecting the environment for future generations,” management said. 

Other operators, including many with large U.S. operations, have established methane reduction goals. An industry-led consortium, initially led by Cheniere Energy Inc., Chevron Corp., Equinor ASA, ExxonMobil Corp. and Pioneer Natural Resources Co., last year said they planned to advance methane science to better combat global emissions from the natural gas value chain from production to end-use.

Two years ago several of the world’s largest majors signed a set of guiding principles to reduce methane emissions across the natural gas value chain. Chevron Corp., ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell plc are among many majors that have announced methane leak target reductions and expansion into alternative energy. 

For example, BP plc, one of the largest Lower 48 producers and the No. 1 natural gas marketer, in March also established a $100 million fund to further reduce emissions in its upstream oil and natural gas operations. In addition, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a collaborative of many of the world’s largest energy companies, has established a $1 billion investment fund to address methane emissions and other issues.

Devon said it has a comprehensive and transparent method to account for emissions across all its operated assets that is more stringent than targets required by EPA. 

The methane-intensity rate is calculated “based on emissions from Devon-operated oil and natural gas production facilities as a percentage of natural gas produced. This includes all sources of emissions as reported to the EPA, plus emissions from all basins that fall below the threshold that require EPA reporting and would otherwise go unreported.”

For its overall methane emissions management program and to help achieve and maintain the intensity goal, Devon is proactively executing leak detection and repair (LDAR) at sites where LDAR is not required by federal or state regulation. The trained personnel’s “primary focus is conducting infrared camera surveys and ensuring that any necessary repairs are successful. The data collected through this program will allow Devon to establish best management practices and identify technology, equipment and materials for improved performance.”

Devon’s new methane-intensity measure is to be a “component of executive and employee compensation, along with short-term emissions performance that already exists.”