DOE unveils initiative to curb methane emissions from US gas systems

The US Department of Energy announced an initiative to reduce methane emissions from natural gas systems nationwide following a series of roundtables with stakeholders. The measures are part of the Obama administration’s larger methane emissions reduction strategy to fight causes of global climate change, DOE said.

“By expanding our discussions through these methane roundtables, we have heard from several different groups about the benefits to finding workable solutions to the problem of methane leakage,” US Sec. of Energy Ernest G. Moniz said on July 29.

“These benefits include job creation through pipeline and other equipment replacement, cost recovery for infrastructure investments that increase safety and save energy, and opportunities for addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

DOE’s Initiative to Help Modernize Natural Gas Transmission and Distribution Infrastructure includes efficiency standards for gas compressors, research and development with the gas industry to improve systems’ efficiency and reduce leaks, a recommendation that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission look at cost recovery mechanisms for gas transmission infrastructure, and a partnership with the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners to accelerate distribution infrastructure investments.

“Every day, methane escapes from gas transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure, costing both the gas industry and consumers money and raising safety concerns,” Moniz said. “Reducing these methane leaks can help consumers and industry save money, create jobs, modernize our energy infrastructure, and protect our environment.”

DOE’s announcement came days after the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General’s Office recommended that EPA work with the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to begin regulating methane emissions from local gas distribution companies’ pipelines (OGJ Online, July 28, 2013).

Already at work

Hours before Moniz made his announcement, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America said US interstate gas pipelines made significant strides in reducing methane emissions, partly due to pipeline safety efforts and modernization and expansion projects to ensure system reliability and resiliency.

“The gas transmission pipeline industry reduced the number of leaks by 94%, preventing 122 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions over the past 3 decades, as a result of pipeline integrity and maintenance programs and continued investment in new pipeline facilities,” said INGAA Pres. Donald F. Santa.

“These prevented emissions are equivalent to removing more than 25 million passenger vehicles from the road for 1 year,” he said. “We are committed to go even further by establishing guidelines to reduce emissions from pipeline equipment, with a particular focus on the types of equipment with the largest emissions profile.”

INGAA said it would develop industry guidelines for Directed Inspection and Maintenance (DI&M) of gas pipeline. DI&M is a well-established and EPA-recognized tool for detecting and mitigating leaks in a cost-effective manner, the trade association said.

While most INGAA member pipeline companies use DI&M, the guidelines will improve consistency and uniformity, which should result in further emissions reductions. INGAA plans to work with research groups to create a roadmap for developing technological innovations to make DI&M even more effective.

In addition, INGAA said it, along with several member companies, is working with Colorado State University and Carnegie Mellon University in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund to help further validate and refine the estimates of GHG emissions from transmission and storage facilities.

Environmental groups respond

EDF welcomed DOE’s announcement. “Controlling methane is essential to protecting our climate and communities while conserving our natural resources,” EDF Pres. Fred Krupp said on July 29. “It requires all participants to work to minimize the risks and ensure we’re getting the potential value from natural gas.”

Krupp said, “It’s clear from the number of commitments made today—by academic, consumer, environmental, labor, and industry stakeholders—that much can and must be done to prevent methane emissions.”

Other environmental organizations said more needs to be done. “Today’s actions by DOE are a much needed and necessary step toward minimizing methane’s potent impact on our climate,” said Deb Nardone, who directs the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign. “These important measures must be paired with quick action by EPA to regulate methane from oil and gas production, processing, and transport facilities, as well as finalizing a strong clean power plan.”

Nardone said, “Together, actions by DOE and EPA can move the ball forward to break our reliance on all fossil fuels, including dirty fraced gas, while ushering in clean energy and energy efficiency.”

Earthworks Policy Director Lauren Pagel was more critical. “While we applaud the commitments made by DOE, labor unions, utility groups, and other stakeholders, voluntary measures and new research initiatives don’t adequately protect communities and the climate,” she said.

“These rules can be a first step down the road to limit dangerous methane pollution and begin to truly shift our energy systems away from an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to one that throws the full weight of our resources behind renewable energy,” Pagel said.

Contact Nick Snow at

Related Articles

WAFWA: Aerial survey finds lesser prairie chicken population grew

07/06/2015 A recent range-wide aerial survey found the lesser prairie chicken population rose 25% from 2014 to 2015, the Western Association of Fish & Wil...

Buru awarded onshore Canning licenses

07/06/2015 Buru Energy Ltd., Perth, and Mitsubish Corp. have been granted two production licenses for Ungani oil field in the onshore Canning basin of Western...

Cenovus sells royalty business for $3.3 billion

07/06/2015 Cenovus Energy Inc., Calgary, inked an agreement to sell its wholly owned subsidiary Heritage Royalty LP to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for gros...

CERI: Energy, operational efficiencies possible in Canadian oil, gas

07/06/2015 Measures can be taken by operators in the expanding resource-intensive Canadian oil and gas sector to improve both energy efficiency and operationa...

AGL Energy to scale back upstream gas operations


Gas retailer AGL Energy Ltd., Sydney, says it will exit the oil business and massively scaling back its upstream gas operations.

Woodside lets contracts for Browse LNG project

07/06/2015 Woodside Petroleum Ltd. has let more contracts for the Browse floating LNG project offshore Western Australia. The contracts, awarded to a Technip-...

Macondo settlement seen ‘positive’ for BP

07/06/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc.’s recent agreement to settle federal and state claims related to the 2010 Macondo blowout and spill improves t...

Court to EPA: Costs matter

07/06/2015 Oil and gas groups did not respond immediately when the US Supreme Court ruled on June 29 that the US Environmental Protection Agency acted unreaso...

The price of oil and OPEC-history repeating?

07/06/2015 The world oil market today is characterized by a standoff between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers a...
White Papers

Definitive Guide to Cybersecurity for the Oil & Gas Industry

In the Oil and Gas industry, there is no single adversary and no single threat to the information tech...

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

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
Available Webcasts

Better Data, Better Analytics, Better Decisions

When Tue, Oct 27, 2015

The Oil & Gas industry has large amounts of data stored in multiple systems which are purpose built for certain tasks. However, good decisions require insights based upon the data in all of these systems. These systems in turn do not talk to each other. So the process of analyzing data, gaining insights, and making decisions is a slow one and often a flawed one. Good decisions require accurate analytics and accurate analytics require superior/sustainable data quality and governance. This webinar focuses on:

  • The importance of data quality and governance
  • How technological advances are making data quality and governance sustainable in order to get the accurate analytics to make solid decisions.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Seven Lakes Technologies and Noah Consulting.


Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


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