Pittsburgh-based EQT Corp. may be the largest U.S. natural gas producer, but a commitment to reducing carbon emissions led management to spend $28 million to replace or retrofit 100% of its gas-powered pneumatic devices.


The initiative led to a 70% reduction in methane emissions. The annual carbon footprint also declined, down by 305,614 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

CEO Toby Z. Rice unveiled a strategy he referred to as the “era of sustainable shale” in the transition to a low-carbon future.

“We told the world we were aggressively addressing methane emissions, and we did what we promised,” CEO Toby Z. Rice said. “As the nation’s largest natural gas producer, EQT not only delivered on its commitment to eliminate a major source of methane emissions in our operations, we also did it in a cost-effective, expedient way.

“This milestone demonstrates our team’s exceptional ability to rapidly evolve EQT’s operations through innovation and teamwork and better positions affordable, reliable, clean natural gas as one of the world’s most impactful decarbonizing tools,” he added.

Under the latest initiative, EQT replaced or retrofitted nearly 9,000 pneumatic controllers at all production locations and compressor stations. The “fit-for-purpose” technology strategy primarily involved installing electric actuators and air compressors.

In all, 341 air compressors were installed. EQT also retrofitted to electric actuators 451 dump assemblies and 381 motor valves. The entire conversion process took about a year and a half (515 days) and was completed one year ahead of schedule, the company noted. In all, the execution took nearly 23,000 man-hours.

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Replacing the natural gas-driven pneumatic devices, used for managing produced fluids in separators, scrubbers and filters, “represents a meaningful opportunity for reducing methane emissions within the industry,” management said.

At EQT, the gas-powered pneumatic devices were the source of 39% of the 2021 production segment Scope 1, or direct, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The company said it is on track to meet targets to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 (indirect) GHG emissions in its Production segment operations by 2025.

Eliminating the gas-powered pneumatic devices is one of several strategic environmental, social and governance initiatives underway at EQT. It has certified 66% of its natural gas under Equitable Origin’s EO100 Standard for Responsible Energy Development and the MiQ methane standard.

Last year, EQT also collaborated with other companies to establish a regional hydrogen hub in the Appalachian region, aka the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub. The company also is electrifying the oilfield by replacing diesel in completion operations with electric crews. The Environmental Protection Agency has listed pneumatics as the oil and gas industry’s second-largest source of methane pollution, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). However, “transitioning to zero-emitting pneumatic devices is accessible and cost-effective, as shown by EQT’s actions,” EDF stated.