“Profitable and widely applicable” practices have the potential to reduce methane emissions in the United States by more than 80%, and the captured methane could “bring in billions of dollars in revenue while benefiting the environment,” according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The oil and gas industry lost an estimated 623 Bcf of methane to the atmosphere in 2009, accounting for about 37% of total methane emissions in the United States, according to the report, with natural gas systems contributing most of those emissions (547 Bcf).

NRDC recommended the use of 10 technologies that it said have the ability to capture more than 80% of the oil and gas industry’s methane emissions: green completions, plunger lift systems, tri-ethylene glycol dehydrator emission controls, desiccant dehydrators, dry seal systems, improved compressor maintenance, low-bleed or no-bleed pneumatic controllers, pipeline maintenance and repair, vapor recovery units, and leak monitoring and repair.

Nearly 40% of methane emissions could be handled by two of the technologies — green completions and plunger lift systems — according to NRDC.

The industry is making progress in reducing environmental impacts, according to a recent report from the American Gas Association (AGA) (see Daily GPI, Feb. 3).

“Green well completions that utilize liquid and gas separation equipment to capture potential methane emissions are rapidly becoming the standard for all drilling and production operations beyond initial exploratory wells,” said the AGA report. “The process makes environmental and economic sense for natural gas producers.”

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