Senators question EPA’s estimated methane emissions from gas operations

Two Republican senators urged the US Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its methods of calculating methane emissions from natural gas operations and to also reconsider its earlier estimates. The comments came during a hearing of a subcommittee on oversight of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Nov. 5 in Washington, DC.

Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) both praised a report released in September that said some parts of the gas production process actually emit less methane than EPA has estimated. The study also noted the leaks from pneumatic controllers involved higher methane emissions than EPA estimates, saying more study is needed.

The Environmental Defense Fund and nine gas operators funded the ongoing study, which measured actual emissions from 190 wells instead of relying on computer models as does the EPA.

A report outlining first-phase results of the UT study concluded the methane emissions from operations associated with gas production overall is about 10% less than the EPA estimates (OGJ Online, Sept. 17, 2013).

University of Texas chemical engineering professor David Allen and other researchers measured methane emissions from shale gas wells completed using hydraulic fracturing. Initial study results involved only the gas extraction phase, Allen testified at the subcommittee hearing.

EPA representative Sarah Durham told Vitter and Inhofe that she could not answer their questions yet about whether the UT study would alter EPA’s estimates or change EPA methods of estimating greenhouse gases. She would only say that EPA was reviewing and evaluating the study.

Durham, director of the Office of Atmospheric Programs within the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, also said she could not directly answer questions about the study’s impact on future GHG emission regulations, saying she was not associated with the regulatory branch of the EPA.

Other subcommittee witnesses included Mark K. Boling, general counsel for Southwestern Energy Co., and Darren Smith, environmental manager for Devon Energy Corp.

Smith said the UT study confirmed what Devon has been telling the EPA for some time.

“Immediate action is vital because the EPA estimates have been relied upon by researchers, financial analysts, and various policy makers as a basis for critical public policy considerations,” Smith said.

“In fact, a recently finalized EPA regulation on the oil and gas sector was justified using this inaccurate data,” Smith said. “Equally troubling, a group of Northeastern states is threatening to sue EPA if it doesn’t propose additional emissions regulations on the sector, in light of the agency’s use of flawed data. EPA must immediately revise its data to more accurately reflect emissions associated with this source category, before further harm is done.”

Boling said Southwestern Energy believes “development of America’s natural gas resources is an important part of achieving a secure, low-carbon energy future for our country, but only if it is done right. The good news is that the solutions to doing it right are out there and if industry, environmental groups, and regulators work together in a collaborative way, these solutions can be found and implemented.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

Related Articles

Statoil reduces capital budget by $2 billion following 4Q losses

02/06/2015 Statoil ASA has reduced its organic capital expenditure to $18 billion in 2015 from $20 billion in 2014. The move comes on the heels of a fourth qu...

Chinese regulators approve Sinopec’s plan for grassroots refinery

02/06/2015 China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has approved Sinopec Beijing Yanshan Petrochemical Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Nation...

BOEM schedules public meetings about draft proposed 5-year OCS plan

02/06/2015 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold the first of 20 public meetings in Washington on Feb. 9 to receive public comments on potential ...

Union strike ongoing at US refineries as negotiations continue

02/06/2015 A strike by union workers at nine US refining and petrochemical production plants remains under way as the United Steelworkers Union (USW) continue...

NCOC lets $1.8-billion pipeline contract for Kashagan field

02/06/2015 North Caspian Operating Co. (NCOC) has let a $1.8-billion engineering and construction contract to ERSAI Caspian Contractor LLC, a subsidiary of Sa...

AOPL releases 2015 safety performance and strategic planning report

02/06/2015 The Association of Oil Pipe Lines is committed to further improvements despite a 99.99% safe petroleum liquids delivery rate, AOPL Pres. and Chief ...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil price bounces back up somewhat

02/06/2015 Crude oil prices on the New York market bounced up $2/bbl to settle slightly above $50/bbl Feb. 5. The positive momentum continued during early Jan...

Congressional Republicans renew bid to halt sue-and-settle maneuvers

02/05/2015 Calling it an affront to regulatory accountability that results in unchecked compliance burdens, US Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and US Rep. D...

Oil-price collapse may aggravate producing nations’ other problems

02/05/2015 The recent global crude-oil price plunge could be aggravating underlying problems in Mexico, Colombia, and other Western Hemisphere producing natio...
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected