A group of more than 50 natural gas companies responsible for a sizable chunk of U.S. supply is urging the White House and European Commission to develop a unified global standard for directly measuring methane emissions from the wellhead to the burner tip.

Our Nation’s Energy Future, aka ONE Future, comprises companies throughout the natural gas value chain that account for 19% of U.S. production, 56% of pipeline mileage and 40% of natural gas delivered in the United States. 

As the United States and European Union (EU) work to shore up natural gas supply to Europe in order to reduce dependence on Russian supplies, officials should pursue a universal standard for measurement, reconciliation and verification (MRV) of emissions, according to ONE Future’s Jim Kibler, executive director. 

“ONE Future welcomes the recent US-European Commission natural gas agreement, and strongly supports the emphasis on low emissions,” Kibler said in a letter earlier this month to U.S. and EU officials. “To this end, ONE Future would like to work with your preferred points of contact to develop a new global measurement, reconciliation, and verification standard to ensure the delivery of low-emission natural gas.”

ONE Future was formed in 2014 with the goal of achieving less than 1% methane emissions intensity across member companies’ operations by 2025. It reportedly accomplished that goal in 2017.

“No other nation or collection of companies can credibly claim emissions performance that approaches that of our member companies,” Kibler said. “We have proven that our performance-based approach to reducing methane emissions works by deploying it at scale and with demonstrable results.”

Methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas and the main component of natural gas, is responsible for at least 25% of today’s global warming, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

Certified low-emission natural gas, or responsibly sourced gas (RSG), is seen as key to unlocking demand for U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) overseas as countries enact stricter policies to curb climate change. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, meanwhile, has prompted calls to use U.S. LNG as a geopolitical weapon to curb Russia’s influence over the European energy market.

“American natural gas is already the safest, cleanest, most efficient, and most advanced natural gas value chain in the world,” Kibler said. “Our member companies, who are without doubt at the leading edge of transforming our value chain, believe that American natural gas can and should do more to stabilize world energy markets, protect the climate, and provide affordable, safe, and secure energy to the world.”

How are Methane Emissions Calculated?

ONE Future is advocating for direct measurement of methane emissions when possible as a preference over emission factor-based reporting, a widely used methodology to approximate greenhouse gas pollution from various sources.

“Emission factor-based reporting is extremely valuable, because it is sometimes not cost-effective to perform measurement,” Kibler told NGI, though “as technology develops, we expect that gap to close rapidly.”

He added, “Measurement-based reporting is by design more accurate, it’s just that in some cases, it’s not yet technically or economically feasible.”

ONE Future includes midstream giants such as Williams and TC Energy Corp., and utilities such as Dominion Energy Inc. and Southern Company.

EQT Corp., the largest U.S. gas producer and a ONE Future member, said this year that 80% of its supply has been certified as responsibly sourced under standards set by nonprofits Equitable Origin and MiQ.

ONE Future members also are sponsoring the Veritas Initiative to promote a robust, transparent MRV standard.

These efforts will be crucial to ensuring long-term European demand for U.S. natural gas, according to Kibler.

“We believe that attaining your objective of supplying low emission natural gas to Europe will require a single, unified, open-source MRV Standard and a performance-based emission reduction policy that is designed to achieve aggressive methane reduction targets consistent with science,” Kibler told officials.

Such a standard “will provide the nations of the EU confidence that they are receiving low-emission natural gas from the US, and that the US will remain ready to answer the call to continuously deliver clean, abundant, and affordable American energy at home and abroad at this crucial moment in history.”