Williams, operator of more than 30,000 miles of North American natural gas pipelines, said Tuesday it would partner with Cheniere Energy Inc. as part of broader effort to study and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) across the sector.

WMB footprint

The Tulsa-based midstream giant said it would join with Cheniere, the largest U.S. producer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), as well as other midstream companies, methane detection technology providers and academic institutions. The goal is to better understand emissions and further advance technologies and protocols to enhance cleaner energy supply. This is to involve implementing quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification (QMRV) of emissions at natural gas gathering, processing, transmission and storage systems.

“Williams is committed to matching the best technology with meaningful strategies to facilitate and deliver responsibly sourced natural gas from wellhead to water,” said Senior Vice President (SVP) Chad Zamarin of corporate strategic development.

Williams’ announcement builds upon its partnership with Context Labs, launched earlier this year. Context Labs’ technology provides end-to-end emissions data for certified natural gas that it transports, with utilization underway in the Haynesville Shale.

Aerial, Land Monitoring

The new QMRV program incorporates ground-based, aerial and drone emissions monitoring technologies. Data would be collected over at least a six-month period. The monitoring then would be independently analyzed and verified by academic partners, including researchers from Colorado State University (CSU) and the University of Texas at Austin.

“Emissions quantification requires scientifically rigorous methods that are unique to each segment of the industry,” said CSU’s Dan Zimmerle, the principal investigator on the project. He also serves as the director of the school’s Methane Emissions Program.

The project “will investigate emissions performance at multiple midstream facilities, not just by short-duration spot checks, but over several months, employing multiple monitoring technologies at multiple scales,” Zimmerle said.

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The researchers plan to field test protocols that emerge from the project at facilities operated by participating companies, including Williams’ Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co., or Transco, the nation’s largest-volume natural gas transmission system. Williams is also a leading provider of natural gas to LNG export facilities on the Gulf Coast.

Cheniere earlier announced similar partnerships with other leading oil and natural gas companies, including Aethon Energy Management, Ascent Resources Utica LLC, EQT Corp., Indigo Natural Resources LLC and Pioneer Natural Resources Co.  

“Collaboration with our midstream partners is a vital part of Cheniere’s efforts to measure and verify our emissions and look for opportunities for reductions across our value chain,” said Cheniere’s Scott Culberson, SVP of gas supply. “Williams is a critical teammate in this effort to provide cleaner sources of energy around the world, and their leadership will help to improve the environmental performance of U.S. natural gas and LNG.”

The Cheniere-led partnerships follow recent decisions by major global players to track LNG emissions delivered under certain contracts and, in other cases, to provide carbon-neutral cargoes.