Texas Natural Gas Is Delivering Climate Progress

Wed, August 28, 2019

Everyone knows Texas is a prolific natural gas producer, and in recent years it has also become a major exporter of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to our trading partners all over the world. Indeed, the U.S. shale revolution, which began in Texas, has transformed the entire nation into an energy powerhouse.

What many people do not realize, however, is that the Texas-led gas boom has also been a valuable tool in addressing climate change. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are currently at a 25-year low, thanks in large part to technological advances and surging natural gas production in the Lone Star State.

The use of clean and abundant natural gas has been the primary factor in reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As natural gas’ share of U.S. electricity grew from 19% in 2005 to 31% in 2017, carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation declined by about 3.8 billion metric tons, a 28% drop. More than 60% of this decline is directly attributed to increased natural gas use, meaning affordable natural gas delivered a savings of over 2.3 billion metric tons of emissions avoided.

The export of LNG is also bringing these climate benefits to the world, particularly to China and India. By the end of 2019, U.S. LNG export capacity is expected to more than double, as several liquefaction units, sometimes called “trains,” become fully operational. With a total LNG export capacity approaching 8.9 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) by year end, EIA predicts the United States will become the world’s third largest LNG exporter behind Australia and Qatar.

By the end of 2020, the Texas coastline is expected to house two LNG export facilities, in Corpus Christi and Freeport, for a total of six trains with an export capacity of 4.1 Bcf/d. Three more facilities in Brownsville are also in the works, as well as a proposed facility along the Texas-Louisiana border.

U.S. natural gas, and Texas natural gas specifically, will soon be a leading driver of globalemissions reductions. But our progress extends beyond just carbon dioxide. Methane emissions from oil and gas are also trending in the right direction.

A recent report by the Environmental Partnership, a coalition of 65 oil and gas producers, highlights the significant efforts undertaken by producers to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and volatile organic compounds. In 2018 alone, the companies collectively reduced emissions by surveying 78,000 sites, inspecting 56 million components, monitoring more than 132,000 manual liquids unloading events, and replacing or removing more than 3,000 pneumatic controllers from service. The companies found that only 0.16% of components were in need of repair, far below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s estimate of 1.4%, and 99% of these were repaired within 60 days.

While production in the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeast New Mexico continues to soar to new heights, methane emissions relative to production are falling. According to a recent analysis, methane emissions intensity declined 57% in the Permian Basin and 24% nationwide between 2011 and 2017.

As technology continues to advance, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects energy-related emissions to continue to decrease through the end of 2019. This will be aided by the adoption and implementation of revolutionary zero-emissions natural gas power plants, which can capture carbon dioxide while still providing affordable and reliable energy. By some estimates, these new plants are cost competitive with conventional natural gas power plants.

As the industry works to innovate and advance low-emissions technologies, gas-producing states such as Texas will be at the forefront of reducing our environmental footprint and transforming how we power the world.

Driven by a need to address climate change, natural gas is expected to comprise approximately 53% of the global energy mix by 2040. With growing export infrastructure, technological advances and continued production, Texas will play a key role in delivering global climate progress.

Steve Everley is a spokesman for Texans for Natural Gas.