September 10, 2020 Read More →

Bottom line pushes energy companies to try curbing methane leaks


In trying to figure out why major oil and gas companies operating in the U.S. seem to be more interested in controlling their emissions of methane than are the federal agencies that are supposed to be regulating them, it helps to remember the old journalism maxim – follow the money.

The EPA under President Trump recently rolled back Obama-era rules to require oil and gas companies to track and limit the volumes of the potent greenhouse gas they pumped into the atmosphere. While many small to midsized independent operators hailed the regulatory rollback, in general the integrated international companies such as ExxonMobil XOM -0.3% and BP largely panned the regulatory rollback, saying they favored the regulatory certainty of a universally accepted set of rules.

In its 2019 annual report, Chevron CVX -0.6% listed among potential risks faced by the company: “international agreements and national, regional, and state legislation and regulatory measures that aim to limit or reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.” ExxonMobil, in its most recent annual sustainability report, said that as of August 2019, methane emissions from its U.S. unconventional production and midstream operations were down by nearly 20% compared to 2016, and added that the company was on track to meet its company-wide methane reduction commitments by the end of this year. 

Oil and gas companies can hardly afford to lose any more investors than is currently the case, if analysis by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a non-profit think tank focused on the transition to cleaner energy, is correct.

“These companies have been in decline for at least a decade,” Kathy Hipple, an IEEFA financial analyst, said. “Even as the world economy is growing, the industry is shrinking.” 

[Jim Magill]

More: Why Big Oil Cares So Much About Reducing Methane Gas Leaks

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