Business, Energy, Environment

Diversified Energy cuts methane emissions, increases well capping in 2023

MORGANTOWN — Regional natural gas producer Diversified Energy continues to make strides in curbing methane emissions and in capping orphaned and end-of-wells, according to its 2023 Sustainability Report.

Diversified reduced its “methane intensity” by 33% from 2022, and by 50% from 2020, the report said.

Teresa Odom, senior vice president for sustainability, explained there are a couple ways to measure emissions reductions. One is absolute emissions. The other is intensity — gross emissions measured against gross production. “That really gives us a better perspective as to the work that we’re doing in our operations to really cut out our emissions, as compared to what we’re producing at the same time.”

Diversified employs several technologies to achieve these reductions: LiDAR flyovers, stationary continuous monitoring, and equipping well tenders with handheld detectors.

“We’re using those technologies to identify where there could potentially be an issue,” Odom said.

The company contracts Montana-based Bridger Photonics to perform scans of the company’s natural gas midstream pipeline distribution assets using LiDAR — to identify methane emissions from gas and oil facilities. Based on that information, they send out well tender teams, and sometimes discover the emissions aren’t theirs but come from other companies’ assets, and they pass that along.

Upstream, Odom said, at well sites and well pads, the teams can use handheld technology to identify emissions. The information, from midstream and upstream, enables them to prioritize repairs.

Diversified also works to get the word out about these technologies to other operators and even non-operators.

“Our industry has a shared reputation,” she said. “I think all of us want to be in a position where we’re saying, ‘We’re doing the best that we can for eliminating those emissions.’ … We’re searching for climate security, energy security economic security and we know when we keep those emissions in the pipe and we’re able to deliver them to the folks downstream to meet those energy demands, that’s what we all want.”

Well plugging

Diversified’s business model is to buy existing conventional wells, optimize their operational and environmental performance, and then safely retire them.

The company is based in Alabama, while its well-capping subsidiary Next LVL Energy is based in West Virginia. Next LVL offers a range of services from plugging to full pad restoration. It caps retired Diversified wells and contracts to plug retired wells for other operators here and in other states, and orphaned wells for West Virginia and other states that have accelerated their plugging using Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds.

Diversified’s numbers show how the plugging pace has picked up: 136 (Diversified only) wells in 2021, 214 in 2022, and 404 in 2023 — with 182 of those being third-party wells.

Diversified operates in Alabama and nine other states. Its largest economic impact is in Texas, at $250.8 million. West Virginia ranks second, at $135.3 million — including 1,095 direct and ancillary jobs and $87.8 million in direct and ancillary payroll.


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