A coalition of leading U.S. natural gas operators, including Devon Energy Corp., EQT Corp., Sempra, Southern Company and Williams, on Friday launched an initiative to accelerate and verify standards to reduce facility methane leaks.

The Veritas project, created by researcher GTI, is dubbed the Differentiated Gas Measurement and Verification Initiative. The collaboration of industry, scientists, academics, environmental organizations and certification organizations has a goal to “demonstrate emissions reductions in a consistent, credible and transparent way.” 

Sponsors plan to develop “accurate and verified methane emissions intensities and the necessary protocols to calculate measurement-informed methane emissions for natural gas systems.” Ernst & Young LLP and Jonah Energy LLC also are sponsoring the initiative, along with the ONE Future Coalition and nonprofit RMI.

“Looking out to mid-century, we anticipate continued robust demand for low-carbon gases,” said GTI’s Paula Gant, senior vice president (SVP) for Strategy & Innovation. “We also see lowering methane emissions as imperative for enabling the vital role that natural gas will serve in low-carbon energy systems…”

Many North American gas operators are working to certify their supplies as having low-carbon emissions. However, reducing the overall methane and carbon intensities remain a challenge. 

EQT CEO Toby Rice, who leads the No. 1 gas producer in the nation, said “establishing a credible foundation for assessing and differentiating between hydrocarbons based on their emissions intensities is an important step to accelerate our path to a low carbon future.”

​​Like a growing cadre of onshore producers, EQT has partnerships in place with Equitable Origin, MiQ and Project Canary to certify some of its gas supply.

‘Right Here, Right Now’

Tulsa-based gas pipeline giant Williams is focusing on the “right here, right now” opportunities to cut its emissions, said SVP Chad Zamarin. He oversees Corporate Strategic Development. 

The new collaboration, he said, is “yet another way we can leverage our critical natural gas infrastructure in support of our customers and a clean energy future.”

Devon VP Garrett Jackson, who helms the environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, agreed. The Oklahoma City-based independent is “intensely focused on reducing our carbon impact and providing energy the world needs. 

“We have set aggressive targets to meaningfully reduce our methane emissions, and understand that we must be able to demonstrate progress in a way that’s both credible and verifiable.”

According to Southern Company Gas public affairs chief Bryan Batson, the collaboration builds on efforts to reduce supply chain gas emissions. “We are committed to a shared vision for maximizing the climate benefits of natural gas by minimizing methane leakages from its systems.”

An array of new technologies and solutions are available, “but the market lacks a consistent, credible, verifiable and transparent methodology for assessing the effectiveness of those technologies and practices in reducing methane emissions,” GTI noted. Stakeholders working with Veritas would develop technical protocols and accepted methodology to quantify methane emissions. 

Defining the protocols to cover methane intensities for each segment of the natural gas supply chain are to include measurements to define emission inventories by segment; reconciliation to inventory actual measurements in each segment; supply chain methods to sum up multiple segments; and audit and assurance to guide the verification process. 

The American Gas Association embraced the initiative, which imay “provide a scientific, transparent and credible framework,” said Richard Meyer, VP of Energy Markets, Analysis and Standards. 

The Edison Electric Institute also weighed in. SVP Richard F. McMahon Jr., who handles Energy Supply & Finance, said developing “consistent, transparent  and comparable methane intensity metrics is essential for end users and other ESG stakeholders to ensure that the product is sustainably sourced.”