Gas Titan to Zero Out Own Emissions, But Harder Part Awaits
(Bloomberg) -- EQT Corp., America’s largest natural gas driller, set a target to zero out emissions from its own operations and energy use in just four years. The harder part will be tackling pollution from customers, a problem the producer is still mulling.
The company aims to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from its own activities and the energy it consumes by 2025, EQT said Tuesday in its 2020 Environmental, Social and Governance Report. That’s the most aggressive plan yet for so-called Scope 1 and 2 emissions from a major U.S. shale driller. Gas production is typically less carbon-intensive than oil extraction, according to research firm Rystad Energy, which gives gas explorers like EQT an advantage in setting net-zero goals.
But EQT’s net-zero target doesn’t include Scope 3 emissions, or those generated by the customers, such as power plants, that use the gas it produces. Though Scope 3 emissions typically make up the bulk of a company’s carbon footprint, most oil and gas producers haven’t set firm goals to zero them out. In EQT’s case, customer emissions are almost 140 times greater than those associated with its production activities.
EQT is stepping up efforts to burnish its environmental image as natural gas comes under increasing scrutiny amid concern about climate change. Gas burns cleaner than oil and coal, but methane leaked or released into the atmosphere is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Investors have urged oil and gas producers like Exxon Mobil Corp. to take steps to reduce their emissions.
“While our net zero target does not include our Scope 3 emissions, we are exploring ways to meaningfully impact” emissions from the products EQT and others in the industry sell, the company said in its report.
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To help achieve its net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 plans, EQT has switched to electric fracking equipment from diesel units and has moved to limit venting or burning off gas, among other initiatives. EQT said it can help lower emissions from the broader gas industry by making acquisitions and applying its environmental goals to the assets it buys. It also wants to create carbon offsets, or credits that allow companies to pay someone else, like EQT, to cut emissions elsewhere.
EQT is also looking at energy technologies including hydrogen and carbon capture and storage as a way to further reduce emissions, Chief Executive Officer Toby Rice said in a conference call with investors Wednesday. The executive added that producing so-called blue hydrogen from Appalachian natural gas “makes a ton of sense” and does not need a technological breakthrough.
“The opportunity is significant and we’re excited to push things forward,” Rice said.
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