Improving Operation Practices
Through investments in research and through industry sharing and collaboration, our industry is identifying and advancing operational and maintenance improvements to help our industry reduce its methane intensity.
Individual companies are seeking new ways to improve practices and procedures within their operations, identifying steps that may be taken to reduce methane intensity and keep natural gas product in the pipe. This knowledge is then shared across the industry through industry initiatives like The Environmental Partnership.
Advancing Operational Practices through The Environmental Partnership
The majority of The Environmental Partnership’s existing environmental performance programs currently focus on improvements to operations and maintenance activities. Through research, shared learnings and collaboration with key stakeholders, the Partnership works to enhance and expand its existing programs and implement new best practices to reduce methane emissions.
- Manual Liquids Unloading Program: As liquid accumulates in a natural gas well, the pressure of the liquid — primarily water — becomes greater than the gas velocity and can slow or stop the flow of gas to the line. Wells often need to remove or “unload” the accumulated liquids so that gas production is not inhibited. To maintain the flow of natural gas through pipelines, operators sometimes need to temporarily move some of the liquid in the pipe to an alternate location. Without careful monitoring, this process can allow some methane and other compounds to be released into the atmosphere. TEP’s best practices have guided the monitoring of more than 260,000 manual liquids uploading events since 2018.
- Pipeline Blowdown Program: A blowdown is the act of releasing natural gas from the pipeline system so that maintenance, testing or other activities can be done safely on the depressurized systems or facilities. To reduce methane emissions from blowdowns, companies participating in the Partnership’s Pipeline Blowdown Program has developed methods implemented best practice methods during more than 10,600 pipeline blowdowns to minimize emissions during the depressurization process or to reroute gases for beneficial reuse.
- Compressor Program: This program enables actions that reduce emissions from reciprocating and centrifugal compressors within natural gas and oil transmission. In 2021, approved emissions reduction practices were used on more than 1,500 compressors.
- Flare Management Program: Flaring typically occurs when there is a lack of gas gathering/processing capacity during facility maintenance. Flaring is also used when an oil well produces ancillary natural gas and there is no pipeline infrastructure available to transport it. In these instances, flaring is the safer environmental option. Rather than venting the gas into the air, flaring burns the gas, which releases fewer greenhouse gases than venting.
Through the Partnership’s Flare Management Program, participating companies implement flare management plans to more efficiently identify flare volume and emission reduction practices. In 2021, companies participating in the program, who represented 62% and 40% of total U.S. oil and natural gas production respectively, reported an aggregated 45% reduction in flare intensity and a 26% reduction in total flare volumes from the previous year.