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Environmental Defense Fund Methane Reduction Initiative

The process of burning off natural gas, also called flaring, is a growing concern in the oilfield. Flaring is not only wasteful, research has shown that unlit and malfunctioning flares can be a major source of methane emissions.

The problem

Scientists have proven that methane is a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change.

The largest source of methane emissions comes from the oil and gas industry, often from undetected methane emissions along the natural gas supply chain. Large oil and gas companies recognize this problem; these methane leaks not only contribute to climate change but represent a loss of $2 billion of product.

However, the measurement of methane has historically been limited to expensive sensors in fixed locations.

The initiative, and progress to date

To tackle the problem, EDF launched the Methane Detectors Challenge, a groundbreaking partnership between EDF, oil and gas companies, U.S.-based technology developers, and other experts that enables oil and gas companies to detect and fix methane leaks in real-time. In parallel, EDF’s Methane Mapping partnership with Google developed a faster, cheaper way to find and assess methane leaks.

The use of methane mapping to find and fix leaks has now become a best practice for the industry, and utilities around the country have prioritized infrastructure improvements as a result.

“Very soon, nobody is going to be able to hide from methane leakage.”

Mike Wirth, CEO of Chevron

What’s next

EDF has a goal of reducing oil and gas methane emissions 35% from 2012 levels by the end of 2025 and 75% by 2030, thereby slowing the rate of global warming. With methane mapping now an established industry best practice, EDF is working with policymakers around the world to adopt, defend, and implement strong regulations to reduce methane emissions – with progress to date in North America, Europe, and Asia.