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What INGAA members are doing to reduce methane emissions

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  • What INGAA members are doing to reduce methane releases
    INGAA looks forward to working with the administration to find other opportunities, including research and development, to quantify and encourage even greater emissions reductions from natural gas transmission pipelines.

Directed Inspection and Maintenance

Methane can leak from compressor station equipment. INGAA, at the direction of its board of directors, developed industry guidelines in 2014 to reduce emissions from compressor stations, with particular focus on equipment with the largest emissions profile. These Directed Inspection and Maintenance (DI&M) guidelines include routine screening for leaks followed by cost-effective repair or maintenance at natural gas pipeline facilities. INGAA will work with research groups to create a roadmap for developing technological innovations, including better leak-quantification tools and cost-effective mitigation, which have the potential to make DI&M even more effective.

Tightening our systems to reduce leaks

The natural gas transmission industry reduced the number of pipeline leaks by 94 percent in the past 30 years, prevented 122 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions. These prevented emissions are equivalent to removing nearly one million cars from the road each year during that 30-year period.  

New pipelines bring the latest and most efficient equipment

As the industry invests in building new pipelines and expanding existing systems to meet growing demand, operators rely on the latest and most efficient equipment to reduce both operational costs and the amount of natural gas released into the atmosphere. An INGAA Foundation research report released in March 2014 estimated that the U.S. and Canada will require each year through 2035 an average of 850 miles of new natural gas transmission mainlines, 800 miles of new laterals to and from power plants, processing facilities and storage fields and almost 14,000 miles of new gas gathering lines to bring new gas supplies to growing markets. 

In addition to creating significant economic benefits, this estimated $14 billion per year investment in midstream natural gas infrastructure will benefit the environment by reducing upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions because less gas will be flared and more gas will be used to displace higher emitting fuels. Improvements to the pipeline permitting process would help the nation to realize more rapidly and more fully the benefits of its natural gas abundance.

Natural Gas Star program

INGAA is an endorser of the Natural Gas STAR Program, a voluntary partnership between EPA and the oil and gas industry designed to cost effectively reduce methane emissions. Together, INGAA and Natural Gas STAR are working to promote a common goal of profitably reducing methane emissions in the oil and gas industry. The U.S. EPA’s Natural Gas STAR program plays an important role in INGAA’s mission to work constructively for sound energy and environmental public policies. INGAA encourages all of its member companies to take an active role in protecting the environment by participating in Natural Gas STAR.  

Working collaboratively to measure and estimate emissions

Along with some of its individual member companies, INGAA worked with Colorado State University and Carnegie Mellon University in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund to help validate and refine estimates of the remaining sources of GHG emissions. The study, released in 2015, found that average methane emissions from the natural gas transmission and storage sector are 27 percent lower than the federal government’s estimate. The study also provided important information about the location of methane emissions, which will help us improve mitigation efforts.    

Other methane reduction efforts

INGAA members also are addressing GHG emissions, including equipment leaks, by:

  • evaluating improvements to the energy efficiency of facilities
  • monitoring rod packing for leaks
  • using low bleed or air driven pneumatic devices
  • reducing the amount of methane released during maintenance and inspections.