Industry Voluntary Emission Reduction Initiatives
April 4, 2019

The pace of new federal air quality regulations to reduce releases of natural gas from oil and gas (O&G) operations has slowed. Existing Federal and State air quality rules are currently in place and actively being enforced by State environmental agencies. New and existing O&G facilities must be designed and operated to comply with air quality rules that limit fugitive equipment leaks and venting of natural gas.

Federal rules in NSPS OOOO/OOOOa require O&G facilities to reduce natural gas releases by limiting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and methane emissions. O&G facilities that were existing prior to the applicability dates of the NSPS OOOO/OOOOa rules are grandfathered in and have fewer emission control requirements. These facilities can be opportunities to use voluntary options to reduce venting VOC and methane emissions. Also, many companies have greenhouse gas emission reduction goals that are used to voluntarily reduce methane emissions from their operations.

Releases of VOCs and methane from natural gas venting can result from the following:

  1. Oil and produced water storage tanks
  2. Equipment leaks (valves, connections, flanges, seals, hatches, etc.)
  3. Glycol dehydration unit still column vents and flash tanks
  4. Facility depressuring (blowdown)

There are several voluntary programs to help the O&G industry reduce fugitive and venting emissions from O&G facilities. These include:

  • The Environmental Partnership https://theenvironmentalpartnership.org/
  • ONE Future Coalition to reduce methane emissions from natural gas value chain. http://www.onefuture.us/
  • EPA’s Voluntary Methane Programs for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry https://www.epa.gov/natural-gas-star-program

The Environmental Partnership

The Environmental Partnership includes U.S. O&G gas companies that are committed to improving the industry’s environmental performance. Participants include small and large independents and major O&G operators. The group offers a way for participants to learn about the latest industry innovations and best practices that can further reduce environmental impacts. Periodic workshops are held to allow for sharing information and best practices.

Some of the ways The Environmental Partnership is taking action include:

  • Pneumatic Controller Program to replace, remove or retrofit high-bleed pneumatic controllers.
  • Manual Liquids Unloading Program for manual liquids unloading for gas production sources.
  • Leak Detection/ Repair Program for Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) for O&G production facilities.

Those wanting information on joining or partnering with The Environmental Partnership can contact them via their website.

ONE Future Coalition

ONE Future is a coalition of companies working to voluntarily reduce methane emissions across the natural gas supply chain. They are focused on policy and technical solutions that can reduce methane emissions from the production, processing, transmission, and distribution of natural gas.

The coalition’s goal is to attain an average rate of methane emissions across the entire natural gas value chain that is one percent (1%) or less of total (gross) natural gas production and delivery. They do not have a volume/mass reduction goal or emission limit on companies or facilities. According to OneFuture’s website, the EPA estimates that the natural gas industry’s average rate of methane emissions is approximately 1.3% of gross production today – 360 billion cubic feet (BCF) per year.

ONE Future actively commissions independent technical studies that determine specific emission reduction targets for each segment. Each industry segment’s reduction sub-target is proportional to their share of current emissions that can be reduced economically. Participating companies take actions to ensure that their emissions are reduced to or below their segment’s sub-target.

As stated on their website: “In short, ONE Future is not a “one size fits all” program that simply mandates the implementation of a certain technology or replacement of a certain emitting device. Rather, we are focused on overall performance that achieves the greatest reductions at the lowest cost – and our members will demonstrate progress according to specific reporting and verification protocols (which are under development)”

Their website’s “Resources” section includes protocols and guidance that can be used to estimate, reduce and report methane emissions.

Those wanting information on membership with ONE Future Coalition can contact them via their website.

EPA’s Voluntary Methane Programs for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry

Two of EPA’s voluntary methane reduction programs of the O&G industry include:

  • Methane Challenge Program
  • Natural Gas STAR Program

The Methane Challenge Program

Methane Challenge Program partners report actions taken to reduce methane emissions from their operations. The program partners are expected to implement methane emission reductions as part of a formal commitment. The two commitment options that partners may make are listed below.

  • Best Management Practice Commitment offering the following options:
    • Focus on one or more emission source types.
    • Select from Best Management Practices (BMP) mitigation options associated with each emission source type.
    • Company-wide employment of best practices within 5 years of start date and a timeframe for implementation.
  • ONE Future Emissions Intensity Commitment

Natural Gas STAR Program

The Natural Gas STAR Program provides a framework for U.S. O&G operators to use methane reducing technologies and practices and document their voluntary emission reduction activities. The program is less formal than the Methane Challenge Program. By joining the Program, Partners commit to:

  • Evaluate their methane emission reduction opportunities.
  • Implement methane reduction projects where feasible.
  • Annually report methane emission reduction actions to the EPA.

The websites for the Methane Challenge Program and Natural Gas STAR Program include an abundance of resources on methane emission reduction technologies and best practices.

Benefits of both these EPA programs include:

  • Information sharing and technology transfer resources and meetings
  • Peer networking
  • Voluntary record and reporting of reductions
  • Public recognition

HY-BON/EDI’s Complete Solution

HY-BON/EDI’s engineered vapor recovery units (VRU), vapor recovery towers (VRT) and enclosed vapor combustion units (VCU) are used by operators to reduce venting emissions as required by NSPS OOOOa, air permits and for voluntary air emission reduction activities. Also, our IQR and Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) services help operators comply with EPA’s NSPS OOOOa rules and greenhouse gas reporting rules in 40 CFR 98 Subpart W.