Column: We Don’t Have To Shut Oil and Gas Production To Curb Methane
Across the oil and gas industry, companies are struggling in the face of low energy prices. Belt tightening means companies can’t afford to pass up opportunities to curb waste—especially those that pay for themselves and benefit our environment in the process.
Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and the key component of natural gas, escapes into our atmosphere every day across the oil and gas supply chain—both intentionally and accidentally. But some oil and gas companies are working with manufacturers and tapping into the American spirit of innovation and entrepreneurialism to reduce pollution caused by emissions of methane. In doing so, they boost US manufacturing and create much-needed jobs.
Reducing methane emissions offers opportunities for forward-thinking companies in the oil and gas sector to reduce risk, improve trust, and gain financially, while also providing clear and immediate environmental benefits. Every time methane is emitted into the atmosphere, oil and gas companies waste a valuable national energy resource and saleable product. A 2015 estimate placed the value of natural gas lost across the globe at USD 30 billion annually. Just last week, the EPA finalized rules curbing emissions of methane from new and modified oil and gas sources.
These emissions pose a serious threat to both the environment and public health. Initially, when released, methane is 84 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years it is in the atmosphere and is frequently emitted alongside other pollutants that impact local air quality.
Luckily, cost-effective solutions for curbing emissions exist, and an entire industry stands ready to address the methane issue. More than 75 American companies—60% of which are small businesses—build, sell, and support technologies that minimize methane emissions from oil and gas operations. In the process, they create much-needed, well-paying, and skilled jobs such as mechanical engineers, machinists, and assemblers in states such as Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, and Ohio.