HOUSTON, Sept. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of Southwestern Energy Company's (NYSE: SWN) commitment to driving innovation and advancing methods to reduce methane emissions from its operations, the Company participated in the recently released methane emissions air study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Texas and environmental consulting and testing firms URS and Aerodyne Research. The study was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
This groundbreaking study is a unique partnership and collaborative effort that included the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Southwestern Energy and eight additional energy industry partners. A Scientific Advisory Panel made up of six independent academic experts oversaw the study.
Key findings from the study include:
- Total methane emissions from natural gas production, from all sources measured in the study, are comparable to the most recent EPA estimates.
- Emissions from hydraulically fractured well completions are significantly lower than estimates used by the EPA in the national emissions inventory.
- The majority of hydraulically fractured well completions that were sampled during the study had equipment in place that reduces potential methane emissions by 99%.
- While pneumatic controllers account for 25% of the overall methane emissions from natural gas production, measured methane emissions from certain types of these controllers are higher than current EPA estimates.
- Additional study is required to more accurately quantify emissions associated with well liquids unloading and pneumatic controllers.
"This study shows that the amount of methane emissions from the natural gas production sector can be effectively minimized by applying reasonable emission capture and control practices. We strongly support the effort to capture methane emissions data across the entire natural gas value chain, and we look forward to participating in the next phase of the study that examines gathering and processing," said Mark Boling, President – V+ Development Solutions and General Counsel. "We are committed to preserving air quality and minimizing methane emissions as part of our continuing effort to achieve the proper balance among the economic, social and environmental impacts of our business."As a result of information obtained from the study, SWN is taking a number of steps to pursue additional opportunities to minimize methane emissions. Examples include:
- Developing a comprehensive leak detection and repair program to minimize fugitive leaks of methane.
- Participating in additional studies to gather data on pneumatic controllers and liquid unloading events to increase the data set and improve knowledge.
- Participating in a research and development project to identify and/or develop cost effective methane emission monitoring devices.
- Working with other energy industry partners to develop a methane leadership initiative with a primary goal of reducing methane emissions from the entire natural gas value chain.
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