Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during oil and gas operations can contribute to global warming. By 2035, energy demand will be up 40%, with about half this demand for oil and gas. A large part of this increase in demand is due to developing nations, where access to energy is important in helping them address poverty and other development issues. However, the energy industry is challenged to meet these growing energy needs in an economical way that is also environmentally responsible.
The oil and gas industry is trying hard to minimize their global impact by reducing GHG emissions during operations through the following methods.
Reducing Environmental Impact through Low-Carbon Resources
Reducing GHG emissions vary from company to company within the industry. Most companies monitor GHG emissions during operations and reduce emissions through reduced flaring, incorporating advanced drilling and production techniques, and using natural gas for electricity generation. The use of natural gas is especially important because natural gas is a lower-carbon fossil fuel (compared to coal, for example), it can play a significant role in reducing overall oil and gas industry GHG emissions (see figure below). Finding and extracting natural gas reserves is an important part of addressing climate change.
Energy resources created from shale gas are another form of low-carbon fuel. Oil and gas companies utilize carbon capture and storage technology to access gas from shale (see figure below). It is possible to develop conventional fossil fuel reserves and other resources from shale gas and crude oil sands.
In addition to natural and shale gas resources, many companies are also investing in renewable energy and other low emission technologies, such as hydrogen and biofuels. These technologies can help provide a sustainable energy supply.
Tackling Global Climate Change Collaboratively
There are several partnerships and programs in place to encourage collaboration between governments and the energy industry in addressing global climate change, including:
- Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership involves major oil companies and governments working together to reduce gas flaring.
- CO2 Capture Project is a group of seven major oil and gas companies advancing carbon capture and storage technology.
- EPA’s Natural Gas STAR is a program that focuses on reducing methane gas emissions during operations.
- IPIECA Climate Change Working Group has been developing GHG management best practices, publishing guidelines for monitoring, measuring, and reporting GHG emissions, and promoting sustainable biofuels standards since 1988.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides an internationally accepted authority on climate change producing reports which have the agreement of all the leading climate scientists and the consensus of every one of the participating governments.
Minimizing Greenhouse Gases in the Future
The oil and gas industry is facing a dual challenge: Meeting the growing demand for energy while reducing GHG emissions to protect the environment. In order to provide both long-term and short-term solutions, oil and gas companies must continue to champion and participate in programs designed to reduce emissions, as well as partner with governments and other industry stakeholders in investing and developing cleaner technologies and new energy sources.
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