Natural gas industry playing offense, defense in energy transition game

December 8th, 2021
S&P Global
Kelsey Hallahan

Natural gas remains in the energy transition spotlight as more producers have recently announced environmental certification of their products, and as the industry pushed back against recent congressional scrutiny of US LNG exports by touting the fuel’s environmental benefits over coal.

BP’s US onshore business, BPX Energy, sought third-party certification of its methane emissions profile from nonprofit MiQ and received an ‘A’ grade on approximately 200 MMcf/d of its South Haynesville gas production, the company said Dec. 8. The MiQ Standard grades on a scale of A through F, with ‘A’ representing a methane intensity of less than 0.05%.

“MiQ’s certification helps validate the steps we’re taking and makes us even more confident we’re providing the energy the world needs with fewer emissions,” Faye Gerard, BPX Energy vice president of low carbon and sustainability, said in a Dec. 8 statement.

BP joins a growing number of Haynesville gas producers pursuing third-party certification of emissions, a trend that has been driven, in part, by the basin’s proximity to Gulf Coast LNG export infrastructure. Comstock Resources said Nov. 2 that it would work with MiQ to certify its 2 Bcf/d of Haynesville Shale production in North Louisiana and East Texas.

Several privately owned Appalachia producers also announced certification partnerships this week.

On Dec. 7, Olympus Energy partnered with Denver-based certification and continuous monitoring firm, Project Canary, while Tug Hill Operating said on Dec. 6 that it would seek Project Canary certification for the entirety of its upstream assets in Appalachia. Both exploration and production firms sought certification in tandem with midstream counterparts.

US LNG exports and climate

As more US gas producers seek third-party sustainability validation, the industry has pushed back against recent congressional inquiry into record-high exports amid higher domestic prices by pointing to US LNG exports’ potential role in global decarbonization efforts.

On Nov. 23, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) sent a letter to 11 oil and gas companies suggesting rising gas prices might be attributed to “corporate greed and profiteering” from prioritizing exports over keeping prices lower for US consumers.

The gas industry has been quick to assert a different, greener narrative about LNG exports.

“LNG exports have the potential to be the biggest green initiative on the planet, and it’s not even close,” EQT CEO Toby Rice wrote back on Dec. 7 in his public response to Senator Warren’s letter. “Ramping LNG in a manner that specifically targets the replacement of foreign coal, particularly in China, represents the largest, fastest and most proven opportunity for the United States to address global climate change.”

Rice’s response echoed sentiment from industry experts speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Houston Dec. 6-8.

“Gas will remain the foundation of the developing world’s energy transition,” International Gas Union President Joe Kang said during a Dec. 6 panel discussion, highlighting the fuel’s reliability and cleaner emissions profile over coal.

About Project Canary

Project Canary is a SaaS-based data analytics company focused on accurate corporate climate ESG data for emission-intensive industrial companies. We are the leaders in holistic environmental assessments (air, water, land, and community). Project Canary scores responsible operations, delivering independent emission profiles via high-fidelity continuous monitoring technology to provide actionable environmental performance data. Our sensor portfolio includes high-fidelity spectroscopy-based methane detection and emissions quantification for the oil and gas sectors, plus Aeris Technologies’ laser-based gas analyzers covering other emissions, including ethane, nitrous oxide, formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, benzene, and more. Formed as a Public Benefit Corporation, Project Canary’s Denver-based team of scientists, engineers, and seasoned industry operators identify and quantify areas to reduce emissions.

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