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Study Says Methane Releases Can Be Cut

icfAnalysis by ICF International (ICF) says the US oil and gas industry can cost-effectively reduce emissions of methane to a large extent using available technologies and operating practices.

A different study downplayed the greenhouse gas benefits of natural gas due to methane leaks.

Environmental Defense Fund commissioned ICF to analyze the economics of methane emission reduction in the natural gas industry, from upstream production to downstream distribution. Key findings of ICF’s report:

  1. Total methane emissions from US oil and gas are projected to increase 4.5 percent by 2018 as emissions from industry growth.
  2. Industry could cut methane emissions by 40 percent below projected 2018 levels at an average annual cost of less than one cent per thousand cubic feet of produced natural gas by adopting available emissions-control technologies and operating practices. This would require a capital investment of $2.2 billion.
  3. If the full economic value of recovered natural gas is taken into account, the 40 percent reduction is achievable while saving the US economy and consumers over $100M per year.
  4. The most cost-effective methane reduction opportunities would create over $164M net savings for operators.
  5. Almost 90 percent of projected 2018 emissions will come from oil production and existing natural gas infrastructure.
  6. A number of solutions, particularly in the upstream of the oil and gas value chain, will have environmental co-benefits at no extra cost, by reducing emissions that can harm human health, like volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants.
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