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Diversified Energy investing $9 million to detect, curb methane emissions at WV and other Appalachian gas wells

MORGANTOWN — Regional natural gas producer Diversified Energy has undertaken two programs to detect and produce methane emissions from its wells.

Diversified said it will be investing $3 million per year for three years in advanced technology to pinpoint methane emissions across its production and distribution assets, beginning in Appalachia and then expanding more broadly. It’s also giving each of its well tenders a handheld methane detection camera to spot and fix leaks at individual well sites.

Alabama-based Diversified operates about 67,000 wells across the Appalachian basin: conventional and unconventional natural gas, natural gas liquids, and oil-producing wells. It’s the single-largest well operator in West Virginia, with about 29,000 conventional wells across the state, including Monongalia, Preston and Marion counties. Diversified also operates 17,000 miles of natural gas-gathering pipelines and a network of compression stations and processing facilities.

Well tenders at a Diversified Energy well in Pennsylvania.

The company said it has engaged Bozeman, Mont.-based Bridger Photonics to perform multi-year aerial scans of the company’s natural gas production and distribution assets, starting with the Appalachian region.

Bridger specializes in the application of precision laser imaging, detection and ranging (LiDAR) equipment to identify methane emissions from gas and oil facilities.

“Today’s commitment to invest $9 million over the next three years into advanced LiDAR technology supports our near-term goal to reduce our 2020-level methane emissions by 30% by 2026 on the way to net-zero by 2040,” Diversified CEO Rusty Hutson said on Tuesday.

Bridger President and CEO Pete Roos said, “We are thrilled to support Diversified Energy’s leadership role and strong commitment to emissions reduction. Our Gas Mapping LiDAR technology will efficiently detect, pinpoint and quantify typically more than 90% of basin emissions to inform and streamline Diversified’s repair and maintenance activities.”

During a 2021 trial in Diversified’s Appalachian basin footprint, Bridger’s LiDAR technology detected emissions well below the EPA-defined leak definition of 500 parts per million, Diversified said.

The company said it will also deploy an additional 500 methane emissions detection devices to its Appalachian upstream field operations team. This follows the results of a pilot project that deployed 100 devices across Appalachia and proved to be effective in identifying small emissions for trained well tenders to eliminate at little-to-no incremental cost.

The 600 portable methane emission detection devices empower its personnel to identify and remediate emissions otherwise undetectable, using traditional techniques like AVO (Audio, Visual and Olfactory), Diversified said.

“Adding aerial emissions detection to the handheld devices we’ve placed in the hands of our skilled well tenders further enhances our ability to detect and repair fugitive emissions across our asset base,” Hutson said. “Our partnership with the Bridger team is another important milestone as we continue to evaluate other investments that will support our methane-reduction initiatives.”

Diversified said it is committed to repairing all emissions and to documenting and publicly disclosing the results of its emissions detection and repair activities. “By enhancing its measurement processes and capabilities, the company is designing its emissions reduction programs to exceed existing state and federal regulatory requirements governing methane emissions, including the U.S. EPA’s most recent proposed methane emissions guidelines.

Hutson said, “Respecting environmental stewardship in making business decisions is a core value for our employees. Diversified remains committed to the continuous improvement of our environmental performance and to outpacing the expectations of our stakeholders.”

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp