The Challenge of “Clean” Gas
Natural gas is widely marketed as a clean-burning fossil fuel. Producers anticipate it will play a leading role in a cleaner energy economy. But unchecked methane leaks undercut this future. Methane emissions sharply increase climate risk and the release of other pollutants.
Worldwide, about 125 billion cubic meters of methane escapes each year from oil and gas operations, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Methane risk is drawing growing attention from public officials, major investors, and from leaders within the industry.
Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas and a common byproduct of oil production. Unburned, methane is also a powerful greenhouse gas, many times more potent in the short-term than carbon dioxide. The global oil and gas industry is one of the largest sources of manmade methane emissions.
As countries and companies work to cut greenhouse gases, oil and gas methane emissions offer the fastest and most cost-effective reduction opportunity. The IEA finds we can reduce 75 percent of methane emissions by using existing technologies—delivering the same long-term climate benefit as closing all the coal plants in China.
Untapped Energy Access Potential
Oil and gas companies face the twin challenge of producing lower carbon energy and providing energy access to all. Capturing wasted methane is a unique opportunity to deal with both.
When delivered as natural gas, methane is a valuable, lower-carbon energy source. But too often, it is vented, leaked or flared—more than $30 billion worth each year, worldwide. That’s enough to power Africa two times over. Putting this gas to practical use would support Sustainable Development Goals while addressing global climate efforts.