EPA: Methane Emissions from Hydraulic Fracturing Down 73 Percent

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released data from its annual Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, a tool the agency uses to calculate where GHG emissions are coming from and how best to move forward with policy and business decisions. Once again, the EPA data finds the oil and gas industry is already making some tangible reductions.

From the report:

“{In 2013} reported methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems sector have decreased by 12 percent since 2011, with the largest reductions coming from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells, which have decreased by 73 percent during that period. EPA expects to see further emission reductions as the agency’s 2012 standards for the oil and gas industry become fully implemented.”

Today’s report echoes previous findings from the EPA’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory. According to the inventory, 2011 methane emissions from natural gas systems had fallen 16.9 percent from 1990 levels, with field production emissions falling more than 40 percent since 2006. The reason, according to the agency, was largely “due to increased voluntary reductions” by oil and gas producers.

These measures include an array of voluntary actions from the oil and gas industry, from investments in monitoring technology to utilizing infrared gas-imaging cameras on site. Just this past week, for example, six international oil and gas companies signed on to a voluntary program to monitor and disclose their methane emissions. To name a few others, Noble Energy has invested more than $5 million in an automation system to reduce natural gas losses.  The company has also joined Apache, Hess, and others operators to work with the Environmental Defense Fund on the Methane Detectors Challenge, an effort to “develop and commercialize cost-effective technologies that provide real-time detection of methane.”

As today’s report for the EPA reiterates, methane emissions associated with hydraulic fracturing have decreased by 73 percent since 2011. Despite efforts by some to discredit the emission benefits of increased natural gas production, it is clear that the United States has been able to continue producing the energy we all rely upon each day while ensuring the continued safety of our environment and air quality alike.


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