API launches voluntary program to reduce methane, VOC emissions

The American Petroleum Institute launched a voluntary program that initially will concentrate on reducing wellhead emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds, and ultimately will try to improve other environmental conditions at operations across the US. Twenty-six participating companies will begin to implement the program starting Jan. 1, 2018, API said.

The American Petroleum Institute launched a voluntary program that initially will concentrate on reducing wellhead emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds, and ultimately will try to improve other environmental conditions at operations across the US. Twenty-six participating companies will begin to implement the program starting Jan. 1, 2018, API said.

“US methane emissions have fallen over the past decade as domestic oil and gas production has increased significantly due to the industry’s technology innovation and efforts to increase efficiencies,” API Pres. Jack N. Gerard said.

API said the partnership’s three main programs initially will try to:

• Reduce wellhead emissions with closer monitoring and more timely repairs at selected sites using detection methods and technologies such as Method 21 or Optical Gas Imaging cameras.

• Replace, repair, or retrofit high-bleed pneumatic controllers with low-or zero-emitting devices.

• Minimize emissions associated with the removal of liquids that can build up and restrict flows at older gas wells.

“Even as domestic gas production has increased more than 51% since 1990, methane emissions from gas operations have declined by 16.3% over that same period,” said API Upstream Operations Director Erik Milito.

“And thanks to the growth in gas usage, US greenhouse gas emissions from power generation have fallen by 25% since 2005, helping to bring America’s total greenhouse gas emissions to near 25-year lows,” Milito said.

The partnership will target the biggest emissions sources, as documented by research and collected data from the US Environmental Protection Agency and industry sources, Milito said.

“To that end, the partnership’s first initiative is focused on further reducing emissions of methane and VOCs associated with oil and gas production,” Milito said.

Greg Guidry, executive vice-president for upstream Americas unconventional operations at Shell and chairman of API’s upstream committee, said the partnership’s initial programs are based on industry experience of proved, cost-effective methods that many operators have begun to implement already.

“As part of this initiative, participants will begin implementing and phasing these three emission reduction programs into their operations beginning Jan. 1,” Guidry said.

A third participant, Mark Berg, executive vice-president of corporate and vertically integrated operations at Pioneer Natural Resources, said that taking action, learning, and collaborating will be the partnership’s main guiding principles.

“Participants have committed to continue learning from experts about the latest innovations and practices that can further reduce their own company’s environmental footprint,” Berg said.

Milito said, “We don’t want to turn anyone away. We want to encourage all the participation we can. Several executives in the industry told API to get at it and start putting this together. We’ll start issuing annual reports in early 2019 following the program’s first full year of operation.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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