|Why does methane matter?
Methane is the primary component of natural gas. Natural gas is the cleanest burning conventional fuel, producing lower levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than other fossil fuels.
However, unburned methane that is released into the atmosphere is a GHG that is considered to be the second largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide.
Chevron works diligently to limit methane emissions (1) to efficiently supply natural gas that is used to generate electricity and heat homes and (2) to protect the environments where we operate.
In natural gas production operations, methane emissions primarily occur during:
• Production. Release of methane can occur during oil and natural gas development, including hydraulic fracturing operations. Thanks in large part to technological advancements, these methane emissions have declined considerably in recent years. Chevron flares natural gas (methane) when required for safety and operational purposes.
We may also flare methane that is extracted along with crude oil in regions that lack natural gas markets or infrastructure. That’s why it’s important for the natural gas industry to continue to work with governments around the world to improve infrastructure and help create new markets for natural gas to be used so that methane is captured and used for human progress rather than flared.
• Processing. After gas is produced, it is collected and transported to a facility where it is processed. At a gas processing plant, there can be methane emissions from the equipment used to make the gas meet sales quality standards.
• Distribution. Most methane emissions during this part of the natural gas supply chain are referred to as “fugitive” emissions. Fugitive emissions can occur due to equipment leaks from fittings, valves or aging infrastructure, and can occur across the value chain, from the production and processing of natural gas to the delivery of the product to its end use. There are some process emissions from processing and transporting the gas.
What’s Chevron doing to reduce methane emissions?
We are committed to managing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by improving energy efficiency, reducing flaring and venting, and fixing methane leaks when they occur. We’re proud to report that since 2013, we have reduced flaring by 26.2 percent. But that’s only the beginning. Here are some other ways we’re working to reduce our methane footprint:
• Optical gas imaging. Chevron is an industry leader in piloting new automated leak detection imagers that monitor around the clock. This technology enables earlier detection, more ground coverage and better source identification than traditional methods.
• Investing in new technology. Chevron Technology Ventures invests in companies that build state-of-the-art valve technologies, such as a pneumatic shutter valve that our experts believe could reduce methane emissions. In fact, Chevron has recently teamed up with CalBio and dairy farmers in California’s San Joaquin Valley to produce and market dairy biomethane as a renewable natural gas.
• Environmental Partnership. We’re a founding member of the Environmental Partnership, an industry coalition that’s focused on accelerating improvements to reduce methane and volatile organic compound emissions.
• Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. Chevron joined the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) in 2018. OGCI is a voluntary, CEO-led initiative committed to lowering emissions in the energy industry. In September 2018, OGCI members announced a collective methane target to reduce average methane intensity (the amount of methane emitted per unit produced) by one-fifth by 2025.
Methane emissions intensity is declining around the U.S., thanks largely to technological advancements in the energy industry. The U.S. EPA and Energy Information Administration report methane emissions fell 24 percent from 2011 to 2017, while oil and natural gas production rose 65 and 19 percent, respectively.
Test your knowledge. Take our Methane Matters quiz.
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