Rockies Express Pipeline (REX), which moves 4.4 Bcf/d to Midwest markets from key producing basins in the Rockies and Appalachia, is set to become the nation’s first interstate natural gas transmission system certified by Project Canary.

REX owner Tallgrass Energy LP announced the multi-year partnership with Project Canary on Tuesday. 

“This first-of-its kind engagement underscores the critical importance of natural gas transmission systems in the energy transition,” said Tallgrass President Matthew Sheehy. “Customers want assurances that natural gas is produced responsibly and being transported via low emissions pipeline systems. 

“This agreement with Project Canary validates Tallgrass’ commitment to being a leader in sustainability and will allow REX to measure, manage and mitigate its direct emissions, leading the way to a sustainable future for interstate pipelines by enabling them, in time, to achieve net-zero emissions.”

Certified gas is produced and transported by companies whose operations are independently verified as meeting certain environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, including the reduction of methane emissions. 

Many natural gas operators are using a variety of methods, including Project Canary, to certify their gas. Among the midstream operators, Kinder Morgan Inc. subsidiary Tennessee Gas Pipeline, through its existing system, said it would transport Southwestern Energy Co.’s  Appalachia supply that is certified as responsibly sourced gas (RSG). Kinder also has other RSG initiatives underway.

REX could become the first U.S. pipeline to implement real-time emissions detection and monitoring across all of its 22 compressor stations. It also would be the first system to “differentiate carbon-neutral transportation capacity” for customers across its U.S. footprint, Tallgrass said.

“Actual real-time detection of fugitive methane emissions across the natural gas supply chain is the only way for the industry to truly know and improve what’s happening within their operations and help mitigate climate change,” said Project Canary CEO Chris Romer. “A differentiated market has emerged valuing certified responsibly sourced gas transmission and production. 

“With their commitment to independent certification and real-time emissions monitoring on a leading interstate natural gas transmission system, Tallgrass is raising the standard for environmental excellence in their sector.”

Tip-To-Tip Certification

The partnership said its long-term objectives are to enable the midstream sector to certify carbon-neutral gas transportation capacity and enable tip-to-tip certification and tracking of gas molecules. The tracking would include RSG, as well as renewable natural gas, to markets seeking to meet low-carbon goals.

“The engagement will enable the creation of a standardized certification process for pipeline transmission and storage segments,” the partnership said. The Payne Institute at the Colorado School of Mines is partnering with Project Canary to assess and review data in the process.

To validate the agreement’s environmental stewardship and operational excellence criteria, Project Canary plans to install real-time monitoring devices to measure and quantify emissions across REX’s compressor station sites, spanning more than 1,700 miles. As a result, REX plans to dedicate specific capacity to moving certified RSG from Appalachian producers to markets in the Midwest.

The Project Canary Midstream Certification process is expected to begin in 4Q2021 and be completed by mid-2022. 

“REX anticipates engaging shippers, end users of natural gas and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in discussions to address the benefits of its differentiated level of service,” Tallgrass said.