Cheniere Energy Inc., the largest producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the United States, is partnering with some of the country’s leading oil and natural gas producers to better understand and cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) upstream from its export terminals. 

The project brings together Aethon Energy Management, Ascent Resources Utica LLC, EQT Corp., Indigo Natural Resources LLC and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. The exploration and production (E&P) companies partnering in the project have an extensive operational footprint and an outsized role in the Appalachian and Permian basins, along with the Haynesville Shale. Academic institutions are also taking part. Cheniere said early stages of the initiative would cover production from wells producing 360 MMcf/d of natural gas, as well as multiple tank batteries. 

Aethon Co-President Gordon Huddleston said he believes the project will help “drive greater transparency and reporting of carbon emissions that will encourage more sustainable approaches to natural gas production and usage.”

Cheniere wants to implement better quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification (QMRV) of GHG emissions performance at natural gas well sites. The research and development initiative would use ground-based, drone, aerial and satellite monitoring technologies to establish baseline emissions levels. 

“Collaboration with our natural gas suppliers is a key component of Cheniere’s focus on quantifying and improving environmental performance,” said CEO Jack Fusco. “This collaboration reinforces our data-driven environmental transparency, supports our [carbon emissions] tags and enhances our efforts with natural gas suppliers to monitor and verify emissions to maximize the climate benefits of Cheniere’s LNG.”

Participants plan to monitor sites for carbon dioxide, as well as fugitive and vented methane emissions. The project would also verify emissions performance and identify opportunities to reduce emissions in the upstream, the most intensive aspect of the LNG value chain. 

Fusco said last November Cheniere was “methodically reviewing” its business to further cut its environmental footprint as the role of LNG in the global energy transition has faced heightened scrutiny. Cheniere is also one of the largest gas consumers in the United States. Earlier this year, it announced plans to provide customers with carbon emissions tags — or GHG emissions data — for each cargo loaded at its terminals in Louisiana and Texas.

Cheniere’s announcement follows recent decisions by major global players to better track LNG emissions delivered under certain contracts, provide carbon neutral cargoes and install carbon capture and sequestration technologies at liquefaction plants. 

The Cheniere venture with E&Ps would be run by a subsidiary with the support of researchers at the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines and the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. Emissions monitoring technology providers, including SLR International, Montrose Environmental, SeekOps, Bridger Photonics Inc. and GHGSat are also involved.

Among the producers involved, Ascent is the largest oil and gas producer in Ohio, while EQT is the nation’s largest natural gas producer. Moreover, Pioneer is one of the largest Permian producers. Aethon and Indigo are among the biggest producers in the Haynesville. Southwestern Energy Co., another Appalachian heavyweight, recently announced a deal to acquire Indigo. 

The E&Ps said the project supports broader environmental strategies they’ve implemented, which cover everything from methane emissions monitoring and electric fracture fleets to certifying that natural gas is produced responsibly and building cleaner well sites from the ground up. 

“Over the past year, we have made great strides to measure, forecast and reduce our desktop emissions, and we intend to leverage this data to guide our capital allocation decisions and overall strategy,” said EQT CEO Toby Rice.

“We don’t intend to stop at just reducing our desktop emissions, though. We are committed to evolving our field emissions measurement capabilities and we believe this QMRV project will help further EQT’s, and the industry’s understanding, application and use of best-in-class protocols and emissions monitoring and measurement technologies to help us achieve our global climate goals.”