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API Announces Voluntary Methane Reduction Program

American oil and gas operations could reduce their methane emissions in the coming years if they abide by a voluntary program announced by the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday.

The announcement comes as President Donald Trump’s administration prepares to weaken methane rules established by his predecessor. The White House announced plans to appeal a decision by a U.S. district court to strike down a previous attempt to remove the rule.

The API’s new Environmental Partnership already has 26 major oil and gas companies onboard. Shell, Pioneer Natural Resources and Cabot Oil and Gas are just some of the big names, Erik Milito, the industrial group’s director of upstream and industry operations, told S&P Global Platts.

"It's really a good foundation for us to have at the start," Milito said in a Monday interview.

The agreement will go into effect on January 1st and will bind participants to monitor methane leakage with the most advanced methods, update high-emitting pneumatic controllers and limit emissions from manual liquids unloading.

"We've done it in a very surgical way so that we've picked programs that are actually going to help us see tangible improvements and really provide us a platform to really show continued emissions reductions," Milito said, adding that the companies onboard represent thousands of drilling sites across the nation, including 25 percent of all natural gas production – which is particularly important for the save-the-ozone agenda:

"Natural gas plays a major role in meeting global energy demand today," the voluntary agreement states. "Since natural gas consists mainly of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, its part in the transition to the low-carbon future will be influenced by the extent to which the oil and gas industry reduces its methane emissions."

Related: Vienna Is The Ultimate OPEC Smokescreen

Other than the Environmental Partnership, the API has largely supported Trump’s deregulation agenda in the oil and gas sector, but Milito is hopeful that oil majors will adhere to the partnership’s terms.

"In the end, we're going to see who is reporting and we're going to see the extent to which companies are reporting," he said. "We think they're all going to do that, we're fully confident they are."

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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