Membership Rise, Midstream Expansion Add to Environmental Partnership’s Reach
Posted July 15, 2020
The Environmental Partnership continues to grow, broadening the reach of the industry initiative to further reduce emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds across the country.
In releasing its annual report, the Partnership announced it is expanding its membership to midstream companies. The Partnership, which has tripled the number of participating companies since it was launched, currently includes 36 of the top 40 U.S. natural gas producers.
Again, the Partnership’s membership growth means that more and more companies have signed on to the Partnership’s strategy of bringing operators together to learn from each other, collaborate on technologies and best practices and to take actions that improve their environmental performance. More broadly, this growth shows industry’s commitment to lower emissions and protect the environment while also supplying the energy that makes modern life possible. API President and CEO Mike Sommers:
“Even during these challenging times for our industry and the U.S. economy, America’s natural gas and oil companies remain steadfast in their commitment to leading the world in environmental performance and reducing emissions. From large integrated global companies to smaller independent energy firms, and for the first time including midstream members, this partnership shows our industry stands ready to tackle the nation’s energy challenges while providing affordable, reliable and cleaner energy.”
The Partnership’s performance programs emphasize using commonsense and cost-effective upgrades, which are designed to identify and address emissions leaks from equipment, liquids unloading processes and pneumatic devices in equipment found at production sites.
By expanding membership to industry’s midstream sector, which includes pipeline operators and storage facilities, the Partnership is focusing new attention on reducing emissions from pipeline blowdowns – used to depressurize a pipeline for repairs or operations – and compressors. Chevron’s Vanessa Ryan is the Partnership’s chair:
“As the program has grown, so has the interest across the industry to learn more about the program and become part of this important coalition. We’re thrilled to add additional midstream companies and new programs and look forward to seeing them taking action, with their contributions reflected in next year’s annual report.”
By the numbers, some performance highlights from the annual report:
- >116 million – Component inspections performed
- >184,000 – Surveys conducted across more than 87,000 sites
- 0.08% – Leak occurrence rate – less than one leak per 1,000 components
- >2,800 – Zero-emission pneumatic controllers installed at new sites
- >44,000 – Manual liquids unloading events monitored to minimize emissions
The U.S. leads the world in natural gas and oil production. At the same time, across some of the largest producing regions in the U.S. methane emissions rates were down nearly 70% (data here and here) from 2011-2018 – even as combined production in those regions tripled.
When the Partnership was formed, participants said they would look for opportunities to improve environmental performance beyond the program’s initial scope. One of those opportunities is reducing associated natural gas flaring in oil fields.
Earlier this year participants gathered at Occidental’s Midland, Texas, facility to discuss flaring trends, causes and current best practices. This expanded on previous discussions, to better understand the issues and challenges operators face in addressing associated natural gas.
It’s an issue that no doubt will be discussed further in the months ahead – as it fits with the Partnership’s overarching mission. Partnership Director Matt Todd:
“It's clear that through The Environmental Partnership and other industry-led efforts, our industry is committed to reducing its environmental footprint and driving emissions lower. By sharing best practices, implementing innovative programs and advancing new technologies, we will continue to drive operational improvements in the years ahead.”
About The Author
Sam Winstel is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. He comes to API from Edelman, where he supported communications marketing strategies for clients across the firm’s energy and federal government practices. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Sam graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina, and he currently resides in Washington, D.C.