NPC Report Shows United States On Track to Reduce Methane Emissions

Wed, May 01, 2024

The United States is on a pathway to reduce methane emissions from the natural gas system by 63% by 2030, relative to 2020, according to a new report from the National Petroleum Council (NPC). These reductions are the result of voluntary efforts, market mechanisms, technologies and existing policies.

The report represents a significant collaborative effort over two years aimed at addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the U.S. natural gas supply chain. With over 200 contributors from federal and state governments, the private sector, and NGOs, the study provides recommendations for actions by industry and government to reduce GHG emissions. Overall, the findings of the report indicate that oil and gas companies have already made significant progress and are strongly committed to reducing GHG emissions in the near future while still meeting our nation's energy demands.

In line with these findings, TNG’s latest methane and flaring report finds, from 2011 to 2022, methane intensity in the Permian Basin decreased by 85 percent, despite production being at all times high during the past decade.

The report, Charting the Course: Reducing GHG Emissions from the U.S. Natural Gas Supply Chain, is a  comprehensive analysis that was initiated by the Department of Energy (DOE) and provides recommendations for industry and government to further reduce emissions, cutting total U.S. GHG emissions from the natural gas system by more than half by 2050 in the most aggressive scenario through implementation of things like carbon capture (CCS).

As TNG’s recent report on CCS highlighted, Texas has a long history of carbon storage and transportation. The Lone Star State has been transporting CO2 by pipeline since the 1970s, when the first CO2 gathering system was built in the Permian Basin, and is also home to the oldest CCS facility in the country. In 2023, Texas had three proposed CCS facilities which would provide additional storage of up to 30 million metric tons (mt) of CO2 per year - that's the equivalent of carbon sequestered from over 35 million acres of U.S. forests in one year!

One example of these efforts is a commitment by Texas operators to reduce flaring volumes. World Bank data show that between 2021 and 2022, U.S. flaring decreased by 9 percent and flaring intensity dropped from 2.1 m3/bbl to 1.8 m3/bbl.

The NPC report extensively discusses the crucial role of U.S. natural gas as a cornerstone of U.S. energy, vital for maintaining both energy security and economic stability. As the leading global exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) – much of which comes from Texas – the United States has also enhanced energy security for importing countries by providing reliable and diversified energy sources.

In the past year, the administration’s policy decisions have grown increasingly hostile toward the industry, constraining operational capabilities and putting the natural gas industry at risk. It's worth noting as our industry navigates these challenging policies, that this report further demonstrates that natural gas is critical for the future energy mix, essential for maintaining energy security, reliability, and economic stability.

Uncertainty and duplicative regulations provide hurdles to investment, not only in future production but in the innovations and technologies needed to monitor, measure, and verify emissions. Among its recommendations, the NPC report calls for the harmonization of policies and regulatory efforts to further decrease methane emissions – advocating for closer collaboration between the government and the oil and natural gas industry to develop durable, sustainable policies. Recommendations also facilitate the sharing of technology and methodologies across the sector– making advanced technologies not only available but also affordable for all producers.

Despite the regulatory uncertainties we have faced recently, the Texas oil and gas industry remains dedicated to providing affordable and reliable energy, and committed to continuing to reduce emissions from our operations.