The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Innovation and Methane Emissions

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted April 3, 2014

A competitive marketplace is the sowing field for innovation and investment. Look no further than the advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that launched America’s ongoing shale energy revolution. Shale development features cutting-edge technology to increase output and efficiency and to make operations as safe and clean as possible. An example of this can be found in methane emissions.

While some call for government-directed efforts to reduce emissions, industry already is on this – through its own leadership and investments – and is achieving good results. The latest EPA Inventory of Greenhouse Gases found that while natural gas production grew 37 percent from 1990 to 2012, methane emissions from natural gas systems fell 17 percent. Emissions from field production in recent years have fallen even more, declining “40.4 percent from 2006 to 2012,” according to EPA. How can this be? EPA explains:

Reasons for the 2006-2012 trend include an increase in plunger lift use for liquids unloading, increased voluntary reductions over that time period (including those associated with pneumatic devices), and RECs use for well completions and workovers with hydraulic fracturing.

America’s oil and natural gas companies have been and will continue to lead on this issue, while creating jobs and boosting the economy. They have reason to do so, said API’s Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs:

“Methane is natural gas that operators can bring to the market. There is a built-in incentive to capture these emissions.” 

More from Feldman:

“Recent studies show emissions are far lower than EPA projected just a few years ago. Additional regulations are not necessary and could have a chilling effect on the American energy renaissance, our economy, and our national security. … Thanks in large part to innovations like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, America is leading the world in producing natural gas and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.