NRDC Methane Reductions report

Chart depicts methane reductions possible in oil and gas industry, according to a 2014 report from the Natural Resources Defense Council [PDF].

Methane leakage has been identified as one of the major complicating factors in embracing natural gas as a “bridge fuel.” There’s tremendous uncertainty about exactly how extensive the problem is, but that doesn’t mean the industry can just wish it away. That was a topic of discussion at the World Gas Conference in Paris on Tuesday with a presentation by the UN-industry partnership to reduce emissions.

Philip Swanson, administrator of  the Climate & Clean Air Coalition’s Oil & Gas Methane Partnership – which counts BG-Group, Eni, Pemex, PTT, Southwestern Energy, Total and Statoil as members – characterized methane as “a reputational issue for the industry.” Those companies involved in the partnership seem to get it.

“Methane (in the natural gas system) is less visible (than flaring natural gas from oil wells), so it’s not talked about as much,” said Jerome Schmitt, executive vice president of sustainable development at Total, who also spoke at the conference. Natural gas is less polluting than coal as long as less than 3 percent escapes into the atmosphere, he said. “What we measure is about 1 percent so it’s not close but remains a factor in emissions,” he said. “We can only be credible on gas if we do it well.” – Reported in Fuel Fix from the Houston Chronicle