5 Ways We’re Leading on Climate
Posted September 21, 2020
America’s natural gas and oil industry is committed to reducing the risks of climate change by producing ever-cleaner fuels and continuously improving environmental performance. As a nation, we’ve made significant progress over the years, with national greenhouse gas emissions down 10% since 2005.
Tackling the challenge of climate change will require a collaborative, cross-sector effort, and API is prepared – with climate policy principles – to constructively engage to identify workable policy solutions that deliver economic and environmental progress.
This Climate Week, let’s recognize the ongoing role that energy operators will continue to play in safely developing resources in the U.S. and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
Here are five ways the natural gas and oil industry is working toward climate goals:
Producing Abundant Energy to Generate Cleaner Power
Modern hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – and horizontal drilling enabled the domestic shale revolution, which has made the U.S. the world’s leading producer of natural gas and oil. These innovations allow operators to produce more energy, more efficiently, contributing to the safe and responsible development of America’s abundant natural resources.
Largely thanks to natural gas use in electricity generation, specifically in the power sector carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. haven fallen nearly 30% since 2005, and ongoing production via fracking ensures the increasing economic competitiveness of natural gas-fueled power.
More than 95% of our natural gas and oil wells today are developed using fracking technology, accounting for two-thirds of the natural gas and nearly half of the crude oil produced in the U.S.
Innovating to Capture More Carbon
The natural gas and oil industry has invested billions in greenhouse gas mitigation strategies, including end-use technologies like carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). This groundbreaking technology is designed to remove carbon dioxide from industry operations – and even directly from the air – and convert it into marketable commodities or recycle it for use in enhanced oil recovery, which may be essential to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Research and development into CCUS is ongoing, with more than 60 existing and planned facilities globally, and numerous other promising concepts. API member companies are involved in several carbon capture projects, and the organization supports bipartisan legislation – like the USE IT Act and the LEADING Act – to incentivize advancements on CCUS technologies. For example, reforming the federal tax code to encourage more CCUS development through 45Q could further industry innovation.
Collaborating to Maximize Climate Effectiveness
In 2017, API and member companies launched The Environmental Partnership, a voluntary initiative that has since established itself as a model for industry-led collaboration toward emissions reductions and sustainable energy solutions. Today, the coalition includes 36 of the top 40 U.S. natural gas producers, all committed to reducing emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds in America’s largest energy producing regions.
The 83 participating companies use performance programs designed to identify and address emissions from equipment, liquids unloading processes and pneumatic devices that measure and control methane emissions. Additionally, The Partnership expanded into midstream operations this year, demonstrating a heightened commitment to emissions reductions, particularly from natural gas flaring in oil fields.
Using Data & Cutting-Edge Technologies to Work Smarter
Technological innovations are continuously improving every aspect of natural gas and oil development, enhancing the safety and sustainability of industry operations.
Infrared cameras ensure 24/7 pipeline monitoring and leak detection, unmanned aircraft systems can perform tasks in remote locations, and data analytics help determine the most effective ways to produce and transport energy resources.
By partnering with scientists, academics, startups and small business owners, the natural gas and oil industry is investing in new technologies and techniques that could deliver feasible, long-lasting climate solutions. API and its member companies are embracing the high-tech innovations that stand to minimize our environmental footprint and redefine our energy future.
Exporting Carbon Dioxide-Reducing Natural Gas to the World
By exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG), the U.S. has the potential to share the most significant climate benefit of using natural gas in power generation – reducing carbon dioxide. Last year, the U.S. saw the largest country-level decline in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, largely due to power generators switching to natural gas from coal.
It’s affordable and has a number of key attributes to partner with renewables in power generation – making it ideal for meeting the dual challenge of supplying energy and protecting the environment. America has developed a cost-effective and environmentally friendly recipe for power generation that is now exportable around the world.
In fact, API’s recent lifecycle analysis of U.S. LNG exports shows significant emissions savings in Europe and Asia when using natural gas rather than coal for power generation. On average, U.S. LNG produces 50.5% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than coal in all base case scenarios.
As API President and CEO Mike Sommers recently explained:
“Today, the U.S. leads the world in emissions reductions, and there’s more work to be done. We’re investing and prioritizing breakthrough technologies to produce, refine and deliver cleaner, reliable and affordable energy and power the world’s economic recovery.”
Rebuilding the global economy and preparing for the future of energy will be no small task, but with forward-focused policies and industry-led innovations, we can address our long-term need for affordable, reliable energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
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.