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Methane mitigation industry stimulates economic growth

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

A new report suggests that the US’ growing methane mitigation industry can boost economic development in key energy states and help reduce oil and gas air pollution, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

A report from the consultancy firm, ICF International, indicated that methane emissions will increase roughly 5% from now through 2018 in the absence of industry wide control measures. The demand for methane mitigation equipment is expected to rise as the federal government considers standards to limit methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

Unburned natural gas is primarily methane, both a powerful greenhouse gas and a valuable product. Many companies have effectively developed technologies and services that capture these emissions from oil and gas systems, according to a recent report by Datu Research. Increased use of these available solutions can create new, well paying jobs for skilled workers, save industry over US$ 1 billion in lost production and reduce air pollution. The industry is also helping to revitalize manufacturing in states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.

Mark Brownstein, associate vice president and chief counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, said: “This report clearly shows an industry that has the capability to help reduce methane emissions and, with the right policies in place, also has the room to grow. These companies offer opportunities for the oil and gas industry to increase operational efficiencies, improve public and worker safety and reduce air and methane pollution. It’s a win-win proposition made even better, when you consider that the industry can support more good paying US jobs that largely can’t be outsourced”.

Concerns around methane emissions is growing as domestic exploration expands. The oil and gas sector is the nation’s second largest industrial source of climate pollution – approximately 25% of today’s manmade global warming is caused by methane emissions, according to IPCC data. EPA estimates oil and gas operations emit 7.7 million tpy of methane, equal to US$ 1.8 billion in lost company revenue based on the average price of natural gas over the last year. Yet, reports show that cutting those emissions by at least 40% is possible for just one penny per thousand cubic feet of gas produced on average.

According to the report, greater state and federal oversight are needed to limit methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. Colorado adopted the nation’s first air pollution rules that require oil and gas companies to control both emissions of methane and VOCs. The rules, supported by energy companies and environmentalists, reduce nearly 200 000 t of methane and VOCs each year – equal to the amount produced by all the cars and trucks in Colorado. Colorado’s rules are arguably a model for smart policy with clear economic, environmental and health benefits.

Brent Lammert, FLIR’s vice president of sales, US Thermography, said: “Finalising methane rule and regulations across the country will naturally make it much easier for companies to make the right decisions on acquiring the technology that can help them monitor and control emissions most efficiently and cost effectively.”

Adapted from a press release by Emma McAleavey.

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