Sep 17, 2018

Shell's new climate move

Ben Geman, author of Generate

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell unveiled plans Monday to cut methane emissions from its worldwide operations to below 0.2% of the natural gas from their projects by 2025.

Why it matters: Shell, BP and others promote natural gas as a climate-friendly alternative to coal, thanks to its far lower carbon emissions when it's burned.

  • But methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, and leaks from oil-and-gas production (and elsewhere on the supply chain) erode some of that advantage.
  • Shell's move is similar BP's pledge in April, while Exxon unveiled a methane-cutting goal in May.

How it works: "Shell is implementing programmes, including using infrared cameras to scan for methane emissions, deploying advanced technology to repair leaks, and replacing high-bleed pneumatically-operated controllers with low emission alternatives," the company said Monday.

  • Shell said its current "baseline" leak methane leakage rate ranges from 0.01% to 0.8% across its assets.

The big picture: The move signals how some companies are pledging to forge ahead with methane cuts even as the Trump administration moves to scuttle U.S. regulations.

  • However, activists say the oil majors are still moving too slowly on climate efforts overall.

What's next: WSJ notes that the The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a group of 10 huge companies — including Aramco, BP, Shell, Total, Eni and others — plan to announce methane targets by the end of the year.

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