We're reducing methane emissions in the US
On November 21st, 2019, Equinor submitted comments to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlining our view that regulation of methane is necessary.
To achieve our emissions reduction targets, we pursue energy efficiency measures, electrification and other low-carbon energy sources at our installations.
In 2018 we implemented several emissions reductions measures, largely through better energy management, technical design and flaring reductions. In addition, we decided to explore opportunities for electrification of the offshore fields Troll C, Sleipner and Gudrun, which could potentially reduce CO2 emissions by more than 600,000 tonnes per year.
We have set a company-wide upstream flaring intensity target of 0.2% by 2020 for our operated assets. This was set in 2012 as part of our commitment to the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. Our aim is to stop routine flaring in our operations by 2030 at the latest, in line with the World Bank Zero Flaring by 2030 initiative. In Norway, we do not have routine flaring in our operations.
An industry leader in carbon intensity
We aim to remain an industry leader in carbon efficiency by emitting as little carbon as possible from each barrel produced. Our 2030 ambition is based on forecasts, sensitivity testing and emission reduction targets for each business area. The target is ambitious as we have a portfolio with many ageing fields, particularly in Norway. The carbon intensity of a field increases as it gets older, since more energy is required to produce smaller amounts of oil and gas. To achieve our ambition, we continued to work on emission reductions on existing fields in 2018, designing energy-efficient solutions for development projects, as well as considering the climate impact of our investment decisions. Oil sands do not have a place in our strategy and we do not explore for heavy oil.
Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas contributing to human-induced climate change. Methane has a shorter lifespan in the atmosphere than CO2, but it has a higher warming potential. While gas releases significantly less CO2 than coal when combusted, methane emissions during production and distribution reduce this advantage. Minimising methane emissions is therefore essential.
We have estimated Equinor’s methane intensity for the upstream and midstream part of the value chain which we control to be as low as 0.03%. We aim to maintain a low methane intensity.
“EPA has proposed a regulation to rescind methane emissions standards for the oil and gas industry. Reducing emissions is an important part of Equinor’s approach to provide low carbon energy. We support the direct regulation of methane in the US at the federal level.”
“Equinor’s methane intensity is around 1/10 of the industry average”
OGCI 2018 Annual Report
A review of Equinor’s reported emissions and third-party studies has demonstrated that methane emissions in the gas value chain from Norway to Europe (including transportation and distribution) are at a level where the advantage of gas compared to coal from a climate perspective is significant and indisputable. Emissions related to distribution to the final consumer represent over 90% of the emissions to European customers. The uncertainty in the numbers is high and we are working with industry associations and initiatives, including the Oil and Gas Climate initiative (OGCI), to obtain higher quality data.
We will continue to develop and implement technologies and procedures to detect and reduce methane emissions, support industry efforts to reduce methane emissions across the oil and gas value chain, increase the quality and transparency of reported data, and support the development of sound methane policies and regulations.
Natural gas is an effective source of energy that can help limit CO2 emissions that cause global warming. Burning natural gas for power generation produces only around half the CO2 emissions compared to coal. Natural gas is mainly composed of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Any leakages in the gas value chain will reduce the relative climate benefits of natural gas.
Equinor has carried out a study examining methane leaks of Norwegian natural gas delivered to customers in the UK and Germany.
The findings show that the associated methane emissions are below 0.3% compared to 0.6% which is the average for all gas consumed in Europe.
This confirms that the methane emissions are well below the threshold where coal is more effective than gas, and that there is a clear climate benefit of burning gas for power production.