Some of Canada’s largest exploration and production companies stepped forward Wednesday to enlist in a national campaign by industry and regional governments to cut carbon emissions from the natural gas market.

Birchcliff Energy Ltd., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL), Chevron Canada Ltd., Perpetual Energy Inc., Petronas Energy Canada Ltd., Shell Canada Ltd. and Tourmaline Oil Corp. joined the Natural Gas Innovation Fund (NGIF).

The recruits added an “upstream” producer group to the “downstream” utilities that started NGIF in 2016, including Atco Gas Ltd., Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc., FortisBC Energy Inc., Pacific Northern Gas Ltd., SaskEnergy and Union Gas Ltd.

The upstream group is calling for proposals to use an initial C$3 million fund that would pay up to 25% of expenses for developing production technology and practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts.

“Natural gas will be the world’s No. 1 source of energy and will remain that for decades,” said NGIF Managing Director John Adams.

CNRL’s Joy Romero, vice president of technology and innovation, said “when these technologies are commercialized, they are the gift that keeps giving.” She predicted that “clean” gas advances would be adopted by sectors from mining and agriculture to urban commercial buildings.

NGIF will maintain a scorecard of emission reductions in the years ahead, Adams said. The federal and Alberta governments have enacted regulations demanding a reduction by 2025 in methane emissions of 40-45% below 2012 levels.

Federal, Alberta and British Columbia government agencies are to participate in selecting gas supply cleanup projects for NGIF aid and may add contributions of public money for innovations that show promise of achieving significant emissions cuts.