- Biden administration drafts framework for differentiated gas
- Officials seek a new approach ahead of COP28 climate summit
Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg News
energiesNet.com 03 10 2023
Biden administration officials met Thursday with US energy executives about a potential framework to govern the certification of so-called responsibly sourced natural gas, amid surging interest in how to distinguish between the most- and least-polluting suppliers of the fuel.
Gas buyers are increasingly concerned with the amount of methane that goes straight into the atmosphere from leaky pipes and wells. Methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas and can undermine natural gas’s environmental advantages over coal. However, such emissions can vary widely across companies, regions and even pipeline systems. Some producers are moving aggressively to fix leaks.
Now, third-party certifiers are vetting the methane intensity of some supplies, based on the promise that domestic utilities and foreign buyers of US gas might eventually pay a premium when it’s identified as having fewer emissions during production and transportation. The effort is also seen as critical to addressing wariness over the issue among European fuel buyers.
Energy Department officials discussed their plan with gas producers, exporters and third-party methane assessors during a 90-minute closed-door meeting on the sidelines of the CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston. The session was described by multiple participants who asked not to be identified because it was private.
Participants and observers included representatives from ConocoPhillips, EQT Corp., Project Canary, Sempra Infrastructure, various European countries, and the United Arab Emirates, which is due to host the COP28 UN climate summit in November. Administration officials told meeting participants they’re looking to develop an approach to the methane issue before the summit.
“The DOE is a perfect organization to convene this because they can help establish a framework with very specific kinds of criteria and help harmonize all of this,” said Fred Hutchison, president of the gas export advocacy group LNG Allies. “They recognize that there’s a problem — and we recognize it and we’re doing something about it.”
The Energy Department said in a statement Thursday it isn’t introducing or endorsing any policy measures on “the certification of natural gas at this time.” It said it will keep talking with international partners and stakeholders in a bid “to forge broader agreement” on a framework for measuring and monitoring, reporting and verifying the greenhouse gas intensity of natural gas across the supply chain.
The latest US effort — bringing together the State and Energy departments as well as the Environmental Protection Agency — is seen as helping to rein in an emerging group of third-party certifiers of gas. It also responds to concerns from some environmental advocates and fuel buyers that some baseline standards are necessary to ensure the “responsibly sourced gas” label has credibility and actually helps pare methane emissions.
“While certification programs, measurement approaches and reporting protocols are advancing,” the DOE said in two-page document distributed at the meeting and seen by Bloomberg News, “there is not a consensus about what purchaser, regulator or other stakeholder expectations should be for a company making a claim that delivered or contracted gas is certified relative to its greenhouse gas emissions performance.”
They’re “trying to create clarity or order in the certified differentiated gas world,” and it’s a welcome effort, said Georges Tijbosch, chief executive officer of MiQ, a not-for-profit foundation certifying differentiated natural gas. “The process is about clarifying what is reasonable as certified gas and what works.”
bloomberg.com 03 10 2023