Charleston, W.Va. (April 24, 2019) – West Virginia’s natural gas industry is playing a major role in helping reduce overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and industry producers and distributors operating in the state are committed to furthering the cause.
“It is important to West Virginia’s natural gas industry that we be good stewards of not only the precious resource that we produce, but also the environment,” said Anne Blankenship, executive director of the West Virginia Oil & Natural Gas Association. Natural gas is comprised of 95 percent methane, a greenhouse gas. Minimizing methane leakage into the atmosphere during the production and distribution of natural gas is a priority for the industry.
Dominion Energy, which is a major natural gas distributor in West Virginia, recently announced an industry-leading initiative to reduce methane emissions from its natural gas infrastructure by 50 percent over the next decade, based on 2010 levels. The initiative will prevent more than 430,000 metric tons of methane from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road for a year or planting nearly 180 million new trees.
The company plans to do this by reducing or eliminating gas venting during planned maintenance and inspections, replacing older equipment across its system with new, low-emission equipment, and expanding leak detection and repair programs across its entire system.
One example of new technology Dominion plans to use is a process to reduce escape of methane emissions when working on its pipeline infrastructure. Known as ZEVAC® (Zero Emission Vacuum and Compression), the technology keeps methane in the system while conducting routine maintenance.
ExxonMobil, which owns West Virginia gas producer XTO Energy, announced its plan to significantly improve its emission performance, including a 15 percent decrease in methane emissions and a 25 percent reduction in flaring by 2020 compared with 2016.
Methane emissions from Southwestern Energy’s West Virginia and Pennsylvania assets dropped to 0.057 percent in 2018, which is over 96 percent lower than the industry average of 1.62 percent. In fact, the Environmental Defense Fund gave the company a “Leadership Spotlight” in its February 2018 report Disclosure Divide for transparent disclosure and continuous improvement on methane emissions.
Antero Resources methane emissions were 0.06 percent in 2017, which is well ahead of the gas production and gathering segment goal of 0.36 percent and the ONE Future target of 1 percent. The company’s emissions intensity remains flat even though production has increased significantly. To further their commitment to reducing emissions, the company participates in voluntary programs including EPA Natural Gas STAR, ONE Future, and API’s Environmental Partnership.
Natural gas used to generate electricity is also making significant contributions to improving the environment. According to the US Energy Information Administration’s 2019 Annual Energy Outlook, natural gas used in power generation has grown to the point that 26 percent of the electricity produced in the US comes from natural gas, second only to the 34 percent generated from coal. Natural gas emits 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal and 30 percent less than oil.
The increased use of natural gas for electricity generation has helped drive down national power sector carbon dioxide emissions by 28 percent since 2005 – the lowest level since 1987, according to the EIA. And, carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. energy consumption are projected to remain flat or decrease slightly between now and 2050 due to falling emissions brought on by decreased coal and petroleum usage.
“The increased use of natural gas for generating electricity is a game changer in the quest for lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” Blankenship said. “Our members are committed to doing all they can to reduce their carbon footprint while providing cost-effective energy to power our homes and businesses.”
“The efforts of Dominion, ExxonMobil, Southwestern Energy and Antero Resources are just a few of many examples from companies operating in the state that have made significant commitments to reducing emissions and improving our environment,” Blankenship said. “Add to that the increased use of natural gas for power generation and the natural gas industry is leading the charge for a cleaner future.”
For additional information, contact Anne Blankenship at (304) 343-1609.