Shale Gas Drillers Allowed Trade Credits For Low Methane Emissions

Shale Gas Drillers Allowed Trade Credits For Low Methane Emissions
Shale gas drillers can now trade credits for curbing emissions of one of the most potent agents of global warming.

Shale gas drillers can now trade credits for curbing emissions of one of the most potent agents of global warming.

Methane emissions of just 0.1% or less during natural gas production will earn explorers Methane Performance Certificates under an electronic credits system launched by Xpansiv CBL Holding Group and S&P Global Platts, S&P said in an emailed statement Monday.

Curbing methane emissions could do more to slow climate change than almost any other measure, prompting the U.S., the European Union, and several other nations to pledge a 30% reduction by the end of this decade. Methane, a chief component of natural gas, has as much as 80 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide over the short term.

With daily pricing, the new credits can be bought and traded by companies such as power utilities to offset their own emissions.

Some of the biggest U.S. gas producers, including EQT Corp. and Antero Resources Corp., have announced steps to track and obtain certification for their methane emissions. But there have been only a few transactions of methane offsets in the past three years, with little transparency, according to Mark Callahan, editorial director of Americas generating fuels and power pricing at S&P Global Platts. 

“There hasn’t been a lot of price transparency thus far,” Callahan said in an interview.

About half of the U.S. gas production likely meets the 0.1% emission threshold. The further below that level, the more certificates a producer can sell. On average, U.S. gas production has a methane intensity of about 0.4%, according to Platts.

Independent verification is required, and companies can’t rely on inventories reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which are widely seen as low estimates for actual methane releases, Callahan said.

The first MPC will be transferred between Pacific Canbriam Energy and industrial gas customer Skeena Bioenergy Ltd, a manufacturer of wood pellets. On Oct. 15, Platts assessed MPCs at $6.29 per metric ton of CO2 equivalent.


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