U.S. industries will need more independently certified natural gas to reach climate targets, Williams’ Brian Vogt, director of new energy ventures, said, but first, companies have to build trust in low-carbon fuels.

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Vogt said a lack of transparency and established measures in the certified natural gas space have left investors and international LNG buyers skeptical as shareholders pressure companies to establish environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.

Natural gas firms need more data to back up claims about the role of U.S. gas as key to lower carbon emissions, but a consistent scale and language that customers can use to understand why they should place value on independently certified gas, Vogt said.

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“There is a common phrase: ‘we don’t have the data,’” Vogt said at LDC Gas Forums’ Gulf Coast Energy Forum. “We have to get a common platform, common sense and common currency process in place.”

In the absence of federal regulations or policies to build infrastructure for a central certified gas platform, Vogt said the responsibility – and the opportunities that come with it– will fall to industry. He pointed to the progress Williams has tracked in the industry over the past two decades, as natural gas volumes in the United States have ballooned while emissions have fallen thanks to voluntary reduction efforts.

Tulsa-based Williams’ pipeline network handles about 30% of U.S. natural gas volumes. It recently signed a partnership with PennEnergy Resources LLC to increase certified natural gas supplies from the Appalachian Basin. It also has partnerships to move certified natural gas in the Haynesville Shale with Quantum Energy Partners.

Now, it is creating pilot programs to further track and verify gas that enters its pipeline network. Developed in partnership with Context Labs, Vogt said the pilots are designed to break away from the issues causing confusion and doubt over current verification methods.

“There has always been a question about what standard or label makes sense to use,” Vogt said. “We think using the data is what makes sense.”

Context Labs’ Rebeca Quintanilla, global head of origination, said her company specializes in creating data systems at scale, but the end result is focused on creating something customers can use to verify a company’s claims.
“There are only so many tools to reduce Scope 3 emissions as a utility,” Quintanilla said, referring to the indirect emissions associated with products or fuel a company may use in their business. “Creating a market mechanism and a common currency is really the only way to enable end users to have that choice and knowledge.”

Vogt said Williams first applied its program to its Haynesville assets. U.S. natural gas demand is expected to grow more than 19 Bcf/d by 2031, with more than 12.9 Bcf/d coming mostly from liquefied natural gas projects in Louisiana and Texas, according to data from Wood Mackenzie. Williams recently sanctioned the Louisiana Energy Gateway, a 1.8 Bcf/d system designed to move Haynesville supply to industrial markets and for export.