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Shell Oil executive urges US to retain methane emissions rules

Shell Oil Co. called on the U.S. government to retain regulations for methane emissions under the Clean Air Act.

While "we don't generally tell governments how to do their jobs," the company believes that the U.S. should not strip methane regulations out of the legislation from existing and new sources, Shell Oil President Gretchen Watkins said March 12 during CERAWeek by IHS Markit in Houston.

Other panelists, including Equinor ASA Executive Vice President of Global Strategy and Business Development Al Cook, said that while the transition away from using traditional fossil fuels in a world focused on climate change is well underway, peak global demand is years away, and the need for oil and natural gas to meet increasing consumption will not decline anytime soon.

However, Shell, like other companies across the oil industry, will continue to work to reduce methane emissions. Energy companies have been looking into lowering methane emissions to limit their environmental impacts as methane has 84 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide in a 20-year time span.

"We need to do more," Watkins said.

In September 2018, Shell said it would keep methane emissions intensity from its operated oil and gas assets below 0.2% by 2025 using infrared cameras, advanced technologies and low-emission alternatives. The methane target is expected to complement the company's goal to cut its carbon emissions over the next 30 years.

In 2017, addressing investor concerns regarding its climate change strategy, Shell said it would reduce the carbon footprint of the energy products it sells by 50% by 2050 but did not disclose any binding targets.

Shell said it planned to annually outline three- to five-year targets through 2050, with the levels tied to executive pay. Shell announced in its 2018 annual report released March 14 that it set its first three-year CO2 reduction target of 2% to 3% through 2021, from 2016 levels.

On March 13, London-based BP PLC said it had teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund to cut methane emissions from the company's oil and natural gas supply chain around the globe.

The collaborative effort will focus on developing technology advancements such as drone-based methane monitoring; integrating methane management with digital technologies, including artificial intelligence; and looking to expand the industry's emissions monitoring and reduction efforts.