The U.S. oil and natural gas industry’s commitment to provide safe, affordable energy while driving down emissions has been unwavering despite the recent challenges faced by our nation and across the globe.
The Environmental Partnership, an industry-led voluntary program now in its fifth year, is a shining example of this commitment.
The Environmental Partnership has grown from 23 companies at its launch in late 2017 to nearly 100 oil and natural gas companies, all working together to reduce methane emissions across the supply chain. The program expanded in 2020 to include midstream companies and today, the participating companies are implementing the program in every major oil and gas basin across 41 states, collectively representing more than 70 percent of U.S. onshore oil and gas production.
As the Partnership has grown in numbers, it has also grown in the actions being taken by it to support its mission of continuously improving the industry’s environmental performance. Through the program, participants investigate new ways to further reduce emissions based on learnings from program implementation and collaboration with one another. As a result, the Partnership has expanded from three environmental performance programs that companies can implement to six, including programs on leak detection and repair, pneumatic controllers, manual liquids unloading, compressors, pipeline blowdown and flare management.
The most recent environmental performance program was initiated to build upon industry efforts and commitments to reduce flaring of associated gas. Recognizing that more can and should be done, the Partnership developed its flare management program to promote practices aimed at avoiding flaring and minimizing emissions when flaring does occur. To measure progress, the participating companies commit to reporting a key metric, flare intensity, to measure flare volumes relative to production. From 2019 to 2020, the participating companies reported a 50-percent reduction in flare volumes.
One of the key components in the development and implementation of new programs has been the Partnership’s promotion of learning and information sharing on best practices and new technologies that can detect and help reduce methane emissions. The Partnership and its participating companies have more recently looked to evolving advances in detection technologies, including aerial surveillance, to identify emissions. The Partnership has collaborated with several groups to understand aerial technologies, including the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab/University of Arizona, GHGSat, Bridger Photonics and Kairos Aerospace, and facilitated the dissemination of methane emission observations to operators.
This collaboration has yielded important findings on recurring emissions sources that warrant ongoing investigation. Utilizing this information, participants have been able to better identify the best operational practices, technology or equipment to address and avoid emissions. The Partnership is continuing to build upon these initial efforts with plans to expand the current program to address more frequently observed emissions sources through new practices and program reporting.
The development, testing and utilization of new detection technologies has advanced our knowledge of methane emissions and has enhanced industry’s active efforts to prevent and mitigate emissions. As we continue to make progress through The Environmental Partnership and other industry-led initiatives like it, it is clear that the oil and natural gas industry is dedicated to responsibly developing and supplying the world with reliable energy while reducing our environmental footprint.
To learn more about what The Environmental Partnership and its participating companies are doing to tackle challenges, drive progress and never stop improving, visit www.theenvironmentalpartnership.org.