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Cost-Effective Methane Emissions Reductions from U.S. Oil and Gas

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An independent

analysis conducted by ICF International (ICF) has determined that the

onshore segment of the U.S. oil and gas sector can significantly

reduce emissions of methane - a highly potent greenhouse gas and the

primary ingredient in natural gas - using currently available

technologies and at a low annualized cost. Released today, the new

report reveals that by adopting proven emissions-control technologies,

industry could cut methane emissions by 40 percent below projected

2018 levels at a cost of less than one cent per thousand cubic feet of

produced natural gas. Some of these measures pay for themselves over

time through the sale of captured natural gas, according to the

report, which was commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

"We participated in this study because knowing the facts is

essential," said Southwestern Energy Company (SWN) CEO Steve Mueller.

"And one of the key takeaways is that there clearly are ways to reduce

methane emissions at low cost and sometimes even positive financial

payback to companies. At Southwestern Energy, for example, we have

already demonstrated that capturing emissions through reduced emission

completions can be accomplished for the same cost as venting the gas

into the atmosphere."

ICF's analysis uses data and commentary from numerous organizations,

including oil and gas producers, pipeline operators, equipment

vendors, service providers and a trade association. Achieving the 40

percent in reductions would require industry to adopt fewer than a

dozen viable emissions control strategies across 19 different sources

within a five-year timespan, including such measures as shifting to

lower-emitting valves, or pneumatics, that control routine operations,

and improving leak detection and repair to reduce unintended methane

leaks from equipment, also known as "fugitives." The most economical

of these measures would save industry a combined $164 million per


"ICF's in-depth analysis points out the vast potential this nation has

to address one of the key environmental issues confronting U.S. oil

and gas development," said Fred Krupp, President of Environmental

Defense Fund. "We now have a clear path to protecting American

communities and the global climate from methane pollution - and it

turns out to be an extremely low-cost path. This report is a call to

action for commonsense policymaking and accelerated industry

leadership starting now."

Why Methane Matters The ICF report comes at time of heightened

awareness of methane's role in global climate change. More than

one-third of today's human-caused global warming comes from highly

potent, short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, black

carbon, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), according

to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Also known as

short-term forcers, this special class of greenhouse gas and aerosol

pollution contributes to extreme weather events such as heat waves,

droughts and more intense storms. And these emissions are on the rise.

IPCC data suggests that more than 50 percent of the warming over the

next two decades, due to today's greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions

will come from these short-lived pollutants.

That rising awareness has helped drive momentum on the issue.

President Obama asserted in his June 2013 Climate Action Plan that

reducing methane emissions is "critical" to tackling the problem of

climate change. Capturing the immediate potential to minimize methane

emissions from U.S. onshore oil and gas operations by 40 percent,

along with continued reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide - the

principal contributor to climate change - is one of the most cost

effective steps the U.S. can take to meet its climate goals.

Currently, there are no federal limits on the amount of methane

pollution that oil and gas operations can emit, and no federal air

regulation of existing oil or natural gas infrastructure. New natural

gas wells are required to control emissions during well completions

(when a well is cleared from sands and liquids to make way for

production) under current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

requirements but the regulations do not generally cover

oil-and-gas-producing hybrid wells, which are common as the price of

oil remains high relative to natural gas. ICF expects all existing

onshore oil and gas sources will account for almost 90 percent of the

U.S. onshore industry's methane emissions in 2018.

"The environmental benefit of reducing methane emissions is clear, and

we must stop wasting the natural gas that is so essential to our

national energy security," said former Secretary of State George

Shultz, who has served in the cabinets of Presidents Reagan and Nixon.

ICF's report, "Economic Analysis of Methane Emission Reduction

Opportunities in the U.S. Onshore Oil and Natural Gas Industries," is

available here. This new analysis complements other research EDF is

engaged in to help advance methane science and provide deeper

understanding of methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain,

in order to inform policymakers about opportunities to reduce methane

emissions. Learn more about EDF's methane research series here.

Environmental Defense Fund , a leading national nonprofit

organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious

environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and

innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on Twitter ,

Facebook and our Energy Exchange Blog .

Contact: Lauren Whittenberg, (512) 691-3437,

Alison Omens, (202) 507-4843,

SOURCE Environmental Defense Fund

-0- 03/03/2014

/Web Site:

CO: Environmental Defense Fund

ST: District of Columbia




-- DC75289 --

0000 03/03/2014 13:32:00 EDT

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