A Model for Environmental Collaboration and Progress
Posted May 10, 2019
A big shout-out to The Environmental Partnership, which in just over a year has more than doubled in size and whose members account for a sizeable portion of U.S. natural gas production.
No less significant is what the Partnership is doing to achieve environmental and climate progress.
Indeed, a key to the progress the Partnership has made is its model of substantive, almost unprecedented information sharing and collaboration on technologies and techniques to reduce methane emissions. It’s a model that could be applied to meet other challenges in the future.
While some opponents of natural gas and oil dismiss the idea that a voluntary, industry-led partnership can lead to important environmental results, the collaborative dynamic that was on display at a recent Partnership workshop in Oklahoma City argues otherwise.
My point: Natural gas and oil companies, through their collective efforts, are important, indispensable leaders to advancing climate and environmental goals – even as industry supplies the energy to run America’s modern economy and to support Americans’ way of life.
The Environmental Partnership is leading that collective effort.
The workshop I attended was hosted by Baker Hughes-GE at its dazzling innovation center near downtown Oklahoma City. There, industry engineers and scientists can learn about virtually everything associated with exploration and production through tests and experiments conducted on a pair of mock wells inside the building that simulate actual production operations.
The Oklahoma City workshop was similar to other events the Partnership has held over the past year in that it fostered frank, detailed conversation among men and women who’re on the front lines of production – and emissions reduction.
For example, it was remarkable to see representatives of a major natural gas-producing company share what they had learned about controlling emissions from storage tanks. It was a conversation, not a lecture. Questions were asked and answered. There was give and take on highly technical topics such as flash factors and compressor dumps. The great thing was the spirit of cooperation among all the participants, irrespective of their company’s name or size.
Chevron’s Vanessa Ryan (below), the Partnership’s program chair, said the workshops are characterized by the free flow of information, much of it developed through experience in the field. Ryan said information goes both ways, with big companies also learning from smaller ones.
Indeed, representatives of Encana discussed software the company has developed to manage and track the repair of leaks. It’s a comprehensive system for managing environmental information – data that can be used to detect trending problems as specific as a troublesome gasket or pressure relief valve. As Encana’s Chad VanBerschot spoke, participants in the audience busily took notes.
There was a demonstration of BHGE’s new Lumen technology, an array of sensors that can be placed around a natural gas and oil facilities such as a well pad or production equipment to provide continuous, real-time detection capability.
It’s just one of many technologies that are being developed by industry and its partners for the purpose of continuing to capture more and more methane and lower emissions.
That the Partnership is voluntary underscores what is going on in its workshops – basically, women and men of industry committed to constant improvement in operations. As The Environmental Partnership works in its second year, that’s the storyline worth watching. Matt Todd, the Partnership’s program director, writing recently in the Houston Chronicle:
Tackling large challenges like reducing emissions not only requires everyone to do their part, but also find ways to work together. The Environmental Partnership's rapid growth in its first year underscores the power of this approach and speaks to the value it is providing to participating companies, the industry, and, most importantly, the communities in which we live and operate.
About The Author
Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Previously, Mark was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor at an assortment of newspapers. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela have two grown children and five grandchildren.
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