The energy behemoth ExxonMobil has recently announced proposed changes to performance standard for the oil and gas sector, offering a model framework for industry-wide methane regulations. The company has urged stakeholders, policymakers and governments to develop comprehensive and enhanced rules to reduce emissions in all phases of production.
This comes on the heels of Trump administration efforts to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) oversight of methane gas emissions from the oil and gas industry.
"ExxonMobil has been applying the principles of this framework to our oil and natural gas operations for several years, resulting in improvements that demonstrate what’s practicable and achievable," said Darren Woods, chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corporation.
The ExxonMobil model framework is based on its voluntary methane reduction program, which involves prioritized replacement of components with a high-leak potential at production sites, technology enhancements to infrastructure and substantial data gathering and research. More comprehensive than current federal rules, the proposed regulations would apply to new and existing sources. The company has reduced methane emissions from its U.S. unconventional operations by 20 percent since 2016 and remains on track to reach its target of 15 percent reductions across the company.
To achieve meaningful reductions in methane emissions, regulations should address and include four primary requirements:
- Leak detection in pipelines and compressor stations and repair programs across oil and gas infrastructure
- Minimization of venting
- Operational equipment controls
- Record keeping and reporting to support agency enforcement
The company proposes utilizing hot tapping, a procedure that makes a new pipeline connection while the pipeline remains in service, flowing natural gas under pressure, to avoid the need to blow down gas.
ExxonMobil has advocated in the United States for a cost-effective, federal regulatory standard to manage methane emissions from both new and existing oil and natural gas facilities. The company will continue to work constructively with state and federal regulators, industry and nongovernmental organizations to develop and implement cost-effective and reasonable methane-emission regulations.