Oil industry group launches methane reduction program

Oil industry group launches methane reduction program
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The American Petroleum Institute (API), a leading oil industry association, launched a voluntary program Tuesday for member companies to reduce emissions of methane and other pollutants from the natural gas sector.

The methane reduction effort is the first initiative from a group of 26 oil and gas giants, designed to cut oil-sector pollution and help the environment outside of government regulations.

An API release said the program, called the Environmental Partnership, is “a historic agreement bringing together American natural gas and oil companies of all sizes to take action, learn and collaborate in an effort to further improve our environmental performance." 

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Under the methane reduction plan, participating companies would deploy new technologies to detect leaks of the potent greenhouse gas, replace equipment and end certain operating practices at drilling sites known to release methane, and annually report their progress toward cutting methane emissions.

The Environmental Partnership is a first-of-its-kind effort for API. In ways, it mirrors the work international drilling firms have done to reduce methane pollution. In November, ExxonMobil Corp. joined eight other global companies in a commitment to cut methane pollution from drilling sites.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with far more warming potential than carbon dioxide, though it stays in the atmosphere for a shorter period of time. Federal and state agencies have pushed methane regulations on the drilling industry, which in turn has said it is able to reduce emissions on its own.

The Trump administration is rolling back restrictions on methane pollution. But the industry insists it will work to cut emissions anyway.

“What we're putting in place today is a program for U.S. onshore producers of oil and natural gas,” said Erik Milito, API’s upstream and industry operations group director.

“We’ve made significant progress in the U.S., bringing companies together who are doing work in this area, making progress on this. What we want want to do now is bring the whole industry together on this.”