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ExxonMobil proposes framework for industry-wide methane regulations

ExxonMobil has released a model framework for industry-wide methane regulations and urged stakeholders, policymakers and governments to develop comprehensive, enhanced rules to reduce emissions in all phases of production.

‘ExxonMobil has been applying the principles of this framework to our oil and natural gas operations for several years, resulting in improvements that demonstrate what’s practicable and achievable,’ said Darren Woods, Chairman and CEO, Exxon Mobil. ‘We offer this blueprint to companies across our industry as they consider how to make improvements to reduce the sector’s methane emissions. Our industry has developed high-tech advances to curb emissions, and we also hope this framework will be helpful for governments as they develop new regulations.’

The model framework is based on the company’ voluntary methane reduction programme, which involves prioritised replacement of components with a high-leak potential at production sites, technology enhancements to infrastructure and substantial data gathering and research. More comprehensive than current federal rules, the proposed regulations would apply to new and existing sources. The company claims to have reduced methane emissions from its US unconventional operations by 20% since 2016 and remains on track to reach its target of 15% reduction across the company.

ExxonMobil states that, to achieve meaningful reductions in methane emissions, regulations should address and include four primary requirements:

  • Leak detection and repair programmes across oil and gas infrastructure.
  • Minimisation of venting.
  • Operational equipment controls.
  • Record keeping and reporting to support agency enforcement.

The company has advocated in the US for a cost-effective, federal regulatory standard to manage methane emissions from both new and existing oil and natural gas facilities. It also supports the Methane Guiding Principles for reducing methane emissions across the natural gas value chain, which were signed in 2017. Also supported by the Energy Institute, the guiding principles are being implemented in collaboration with many stakeholders, including the Environmental Defense Fund, the International Energy Agency, the International Gas Union, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative Climate Investment Fund, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the Sustainable Gas Institute, the Energy and Resources Institute and United Nations Environment. 

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