EQT Corp., the nation’s largest natural gas producer, is pushing to ensure most of its Appalachian Basin supply is responsibly sourced and marketed as the globe transitions from fossil fuels.

The pilot program, set to be launched this month, is designed to certify around 4 Bcf/d gross from 200-plus well pads in Pennsylvania’s Greene and Washington counties. The certification would be based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, with methane emissions also quantified.

Certification would be based on separate standards developed by Equitable Origin (EO) and MiQ to advance what has become known in the industry as “responsibly” sourced gas production. EQT in January separately began a certification pilot with Project Canary for production from two gas well pads in southwestern Pennsylvania. 

[TUNE IN: Catch NGI’s Hub & Flow podcast on Green LNG, discussing factors driving this change and the efforts underway to decarbonize the global natural gas market.]

“We received a tremendous amount of market interest following our announcement in January that we would be seeking certification of a portion of our natural gas production,” CEO Toby Rice said. “We are committed to the highest standards of performance for our production operations, and we believe that obtaining certification from Equitable Origin and MiQ will enable us to further demonstrate our commitment to producing our natural gas in accordance with high environmental and social standards, and differentiate our gas in the market.”

When the process with EO and MiQ is completed, EQT said its certified gas production would comprise 4.5% of total U.S. gas produced.

“This means EQT will be producing more certified gas than any other U.S. producer’s entire natural gas production (certified or uncertified),” management noted. 

The certification commitment with EO and MiQ initially would be for one year as EQT explores the market for “differentiated products.”

EO has five principles, aka its EO100 Standard, against which it certifies produced gas.  It reviews corporate governance and ethics; social impacts, human rights and community engagement; Indigenous Peoples’ rights; occupational health and safety, and fair labor standards; and environmental impacts, biodiversity and climate change. 

“Markets for differentiated natural gas are beginning to reward those companies with superior ESG performance,” EO CEO Soledad Mills said. “EQT has a long-standing commitment to ESG and we are delighted to work with them on this exciting project.” Ms. Mills continued, “MiQ brings a wealth of expertise and experience in energy and climate change. Their certification system provides an independent, credible and quantified approach to methane performance evaluation that sits alongside, and enhances, our overall certification process.”

In its certification process, MiQ factors in methane intensity, company practices and methane detection. MiQ, a partnership between Rocky Mountain Institute and SYSTEMIQ, is striving to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the oil and gas sector. The certification system is designed to create a differentiated market for gas buyers and sellers. It complements existing voluntary schemes and regulations to cut upstream gas emissions. 

“Across the energy industry, from producers to consumers, there is a growing awareness of the climate change impact of methane emissions from natural gas production,” MiQ senior adviser Georges Tijbosch said. “Methane has 84 times the global warming potential of CO2,” and “reducing this harmful greenhouse gas is one of the most important things we can do to reach our global climate goals in the next decade.

“EQT’s certification program is an exciting step to differentiating the U.S natural gas market based on ESG criteria.”Other North American gas producers are advancing responsible gas production practices. For example, Chesapeake Energy Corp. has launched a pilot with Project Canary for its Haynesville and Marcellus shale gas. Last year Canada’s Seven Generations Energy Ltd. worked with EO to earn the Fair Trade and Sustainable Palm Oil–EO gas brand to land a supply contract for about 50 MMcf/d with Quebec gas distributor Energir.