Six oil and gas majors ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, Eni, Statoil, Repsol, BP, and Wintershall have said they will commit further to reducing methane emissions from the natural gas assets they operate around the world.
The energy companies also agreed to encourage others across the natural gas value chain – from production to the final consumer – to do the same.
According to the joint statement released on Wednesday, the eight oil and gas companies said the methane reduction commitment was made as part of wider efforts by the global energy industry to ensure that natural gas continues to play a critical role in helping meet future energy demand while addressing climate change.
“Since natural gas consists mainly of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, its role in the transition to a low-carbon future will be influenced by the extent to which methane emissions are reduced,” the statement read.
The eight energy companies on Wednesday signed a Guiding Principles document, which focuses on: continually reducing methane emissions; advancing strong performance across gas value chains; improving accuracy of methane emissions data; advocating sound policies and regulations on methane emissions; and increasing transparency.
Among the principles, the majors have committed to establish and maintain plans to systematically monitor and reduce methane emissions from identified sources in their existing operated assets, putting more focus on higher emitting operations.
“Since natural gas consists mainly of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, its role in the transition to a low-carbon future will be influenced by the extent to which methane emissions are reduced”
Also, the plan is to incorporate the management of methane emissions in maintenance plans, and the design and construction of their new projects. The companies have also committed to encourage these actions in non-operated assets.
Furthermore, the eight have pledged to reduce venting, fugitive methane emissions, and to improve combustion efficiency.
Also, they promised to implement systematic leak detection and repair programmes, prioritising potential higher emitting sources.T They will also focuse on implementing and further development of effective technologies and practices for monitoring and reducing methane emissions, and consider them in them project engineering and design.
The eight energy firms have said they would provide financial and operational support for the development and deployment of innovative technologies and approaches that monitor and reduce methane emissions.
“Numerous studies have shown the importance of quickly reducing methane emissions if we’re to meet growing energy demand and multiple environmental goals,” said Mark Radka, Head of UN Environment’s Energy and Climate Branch. “The Guiding Principles provide an excellent framework for doing so across the entire natural gas value chain, particularly if they’re linked to reporting on the emissions reductions achieved.”
The Guiding Principles were developed in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund, the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Gas Union, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative Climate Investments, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Sustainable Gas Institute, The Energy and Resources Institute, and United Nations Environment.
“Our analysis at IEA shows that credible action to minimize methane emissions is essential to the achievement of global climate goals, and to the outlook for natural gas,” said Tim Gould, Head of Supply Division, World Energy Outlook, IEA.
“The commitment by companies to the Guiding Principles is a very important step; we look forward to seeing the results of their implementation and wider application. The opportunity is considerable – implementing all of the cost-effective methane abatement measures worldwide would have the same effect on long-term climate change as closing all existing coal-fired power plants in China.”