Tackling flaring: Learnings from leading Permian operators

Natural gas flaring has been a long-time concern for the oil & gas industry. In a decarbonizing world and increasingly competitive energy industry, eliminating routine flaring is critical to minimize climate impact and curtail economic waste.

As the Permian Basin witnessed a rapid growth in oil production over the past decade, the rate of routine natural gas flaring also increased at an alarming rate.

While flaring is a widespread industry problem, several Permian producers have found solutions to effectively minimizing flaring, achieving flaring intensity rates from less than 1% to 2.6% in the Permian, where the basin average is close to 4%.

Based on interviews with several of these Permian producers, this report outlines feasible and effective solutions to minimize flaring. Industry and other stakeholders can learn from these best-in-class producers to accelerate action and cost-effectively implement flaring solutions.

State of the Air 2020

The “State of the Air” 2020 found that, in 2016-2018, more cities had high days of ozone and short-term particle pollution compared to 2015-2017 and many cities measured increased levels of year-round particle pollution.

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, the landmark law that has driven dramatic improvements in air quality over its history. This is critical because far too many communities reported air pollution that still threatens health, and climate change impacts continue to threaten progress. Further, harmful revisions and setbacks to key protections currently in place or required under the Act threaten to make air quality even worse in parts of the country. “State of the Air” 2020 shows that we must not take the Clean Air Act for granted.

Hitting the mark: improving the credibility of industry methane data

Methane emissions challenge the global oil and gas industry and the role and reputation of natural gas in a decarbonizing world. Credibly demonstrating near zero methane emissions is both an imperative and a competitive differentiator for companies in the early phases of the energy transition.

However, the oil and gas industry has a methane emissions data problem. The majority of emissions data is derived from desktop calculations, not real-world measurements. Around the world, research reveals that methane emission inventories consistently underestimate, and in some cases overestimate, real emissions. This uncertainty can compromise the integrity and credibility of reported information for governments, civil society and investors.

Improving the accuracy of methane emission estimates is necessary to instill confidence that progress is being made. This report outlines an enhanced approach to measuring and reporting methane emissions.

While the journey begins with increased and improved data acquisition, it does not end there. This paper explores three critical actions that executives must champion to improve data accuracy and earn stakeholder confidence that methane commitments are real.

Climate and Health Risks of Liquified Natural Gas

The years between 2005-2018 witnessed a dramatic rise in “natural” gas (methane) production in the United States, driven by the use of horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an extraction process that injects highly pressurized water and chemicals underground to fracture rock formations. Once fracked, the gas is typically transported and distributed domestically through a vast network of pipelines. However, when the gas is intended for export to another continent, pipelines are not an option. Instead, the gas is liquified and transported in special cryogenic tankers for overseas delivery. Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is methane that is filtered (or “purified” to use the industry term) and supercooled to -260° F, turning it from gas to liquid. Liquefaction reduces the gas’s volume by 600 times, making it easier to store and transport in large quantities. This white paper examines LNG’s implications for our environment, health and climate.

Polluted Parks: How America is Failing to Protect Our National Parks, People and Planet from Air Pollution

Nearly every national park is affected by air pollution and climate change in adverse ways. NPCA’s “Polluted Parks” report evaluates damage from air pollution at 417 national parks based on harm to nature, hazy skies, unhealthy air and climate change. It also presents stories of people affected and clear and feasible solutions to benefit our air, parks and climate.

State of the Air 2019

American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” 2019 found that, in 2015-2017, more cities had high days of ozone and short-term particle pollution compared to 2014-2016 and many cities measured increased levels of year-round particle pollution. The “State of the Air” 2019 report shows that too many cities across the nation increased the number of days when particle pollution, often called “soot,” soared to often record-breaking levels. More cities suffered from higher numbers of days when ground-level ozone, also known as “smog,” reached unhealthy levels. Many cities saw their year-round levels of particle pollution increase as well.

Natural Gas Waste on the Navajo Nation: An analysis of oil and gas methane emissions

A report from Environmental Defense Fund and conservation partners, including Diné C.A.R.E., Native American Voters Alliance and Grand Canyon Trust, sheds light on the amount of natural gas wasted on Navajo Nation lands, and offers recommendations to policymakers for addressing this problem and its negative effects on human health, the environment and economy.

The analysis estimates the amount of methane burned, vented or leaked across the oil and gas supply chain within the Navajo Nation and quantifies the economic value of that lost gas based on market prices.

Face to Face with Oil and Gas: Voices from the Front Lines of Oil and Gas Pollution

A new report from Moms Clean Air Force highlights the scope and diversity of the public health impacts that oil and gas pollution have on the well-being of families across the country, in both urban and rural areas, living near and far from oil and gas operations. It is unconscionable that our federal government wants to weaken or revoke safeguards that protect our children from this industrial pollution.

By sharing the perspectives of seven women from across the country living with this pollution, this report brings us face to face with the health impacts of the oil and gas industry.

Country Living, Dirty Air: Oil and Gas Pollution in Rural America

In many parts of America’s rural countryside, pollution from the booming oil and gas industry is causing an increase in asthma attacks and increased risks of cancer and respiratory diseases. That’s the key finding of a new report released today from Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and Earthworks. 

This report builds on two earlier reports from CATF — Gasping for Breath (2016) and Fossil Fumes (2017) — and Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Threat Map and demonstrates how, even in sparsely populated areas in the West and Midwest, that significant health impacts can be observed.

Synthesis Study

Science released a study from the Environmental Defense Fund that finds that the U.S. oil and gas industry emits 13 million metric tons of methane from its operations each year—nearly 60 percent more than currently estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The higher overall methane leak rate underscores a growing business and environmental challenge for natural gas in an increasingly competitive, lower-carbon economy. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, with more than 80 times the climate warming impact of carbon dioxide over a 20-year timespan. It is also the main ingredient in natural gas.

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