The oil and gas industry has always been themed with using technology to improve processes. Using a similar approach, companies have sought to improve regulatory compliance and environmental protection. Established during the Obama administration in 2014, seven firms united as Our Nation’s Energy Future, better known as ONE Future, in search of a significant reduction in methane emissions. Harnessing a rejuvenated commitment and innovation in technology, ONE Future has made great strides in accomplishing its goal.
“Attempting to be proactive, ONE Future approached the EPA with our performance-based program,” said Richard Hyde, Executive Director of ONE Future. “They agreed to our protocol and approved our math for calculating the methane intensity rate.”
ONE Future has laid down the gauntlet and identified its emissions reduction goal of one percent by 2025. To accomplish this, the coalition tapped the industry’s individual sectors for participation and transfer of knowledge. The sectors targeted include production, boosting and gathering, processing, transportation and storage, and distribution. According to Hyde, the focus targets each member contributing in their own way and capability.
“We ask each member to contribute what they can,” said Hyde. “It doesn’t matter how we get to the goal just as long as we get there.”
ONE Future’s makeup consists of 33 natural-gas companies who work together as one team to accomplish one goal. Their members include some of the industry’s largest companies, such as Atmos Energy and Boardwalk Pipelines. In addition to the Executive Director, ONE Future consists of 26 board members who are employees of member companies.
Hyde indicated that ONE Future’s contribution has been a monumental success. It has provided members a platform to join and work for the common good as a team in giving back to an industry that has provided so much for so many.
“There are no individual goals,” said Hyde. “It is a team effort.”
That team effort recently led to happily reported emissions statistics. The coalition released the ONE Future 2019 Methane Emission Intensity Report in November 2020. The report proudly noted that ONE Future exceeded their goal by 67% with a reported 0.334% methane intensity of member companies compared to the 1% goal for 2025.
The report further identified substantial growth in membership. 2018 brought methane intensity reporting by 17 ONE Future Members while 2019 witnessed an increase to 24. With increased membership, total methane intensity remained flat while production increased by 32% and deliveries to customers by 58%. But for the third consecutive year, however, ONE Future significantly surpassed its 1% goal. Observations made from this data show that the industry has the ability to lower methane emissions and still increase production while supplying energy both domestically and globally.
The 2019 report drilled down and revealed useful information to its members. As each member contributes individually to the numbers used to formulate the statistical data, each sector of which they comprise exceeded their goal expectations. Production exceeded their goal by 70%, while Gathering and Boosting accomplished the same by 59%. Transmission and Storage beat their goal by 63% and Distribution by 58%. Processing saw the largest windfall and surpassed theirs by 89%.
Hyde identifies the importance of the team’s ability of its members to share technology. Because no regulations stipulate any specific technology to decreasing methane emissions, the team is able to take advantage of a flexible structure and adhere to an approach best suited to their own business model.
In addition to a proactive approach to preserving the environment as an industry team, ONE Future’s membership requirements are equally enticing. Their fee structure is dependent upon gross revenue. Attempting to increase enrollment, Hyde stated the coalition is reducing those fees next year.
“We are trying to remove deficiencies to allow for smaller companies to join us,” said Hyde. “More members allow for lower prices.”
Hyde further explained the group’s reasoning for increasing membership, saying, “The more members we have only makes us better with increased participation and the potential of better practices shared.”
Walking down memory lane, Hyde recounted that he was employed by Southern Company Gas, which was one of the founding companies of ONE Future. He became a loaned employee in 2016 and served in an executive role for the coalition.
“It was getting too much to handle,” said Hyde. “The board asked me to contract part-time.”
2017 brought Hyde’s retirement, and his attention was solely diverted to managing ONE Future. With a background in governmental affairs, he saw a need and was challenged by an opportunity he described as both challenging and interesting.
“I knew something along the lines of what ONE Future was promoting was imperative to the industry,” said Hyde. “I saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to jump in.”
Speaking on next year’s goals, Hyde stated that predictive analytics would encompass a vast amount of the group’s attention. He expressed great value in the ability to take data and use it as a tool to predict where problem areas can occur. Noting that this will be quite the undertaking, he validated the need for member companies who recognize the significance of this notion and the success of the program itself. These attributes combined will assist in new directives and accomplishments like predictive analytics.
Acknowledging goals for next year, Hyde is focused on a more long term vantage point. He said that ONE Future is committed to achieving substantial growth over the next five years. Citing the potential of third-party audit, Hyde said, “We need to find a way to validate our members in our program. Data accuracy is very important in proving the value of our members.”
ONE Future’s anticipated improvements between now and 2025 are clearly stated. Flexible emission reduction standards will be expanded through an uptick in enrollment. Additional reductions will be recorded as improvements are experienced in the collection of data. As the EPA updates the methodology, the coalition will make updates of their own to the national emission intensity basis. The group will also be reviewing their practices annually to determine where improvements or changes must be made. They further documented an additional improvement of periodically reviewing collected data to determine if methane intensity targets should be altered.
Hyde continues to stipulate that ONE Future’s eternal success will be possible through technological advancements. Coupled with the ability to drive down emissions, he expressed the need for everyone, both members of ONE Future and non-members, to use the same formula in calculating the intensity rate of methane.
“Creating an industry yardstick for methane intensity rate needs to happen, so everyone is on the same page,” said Hyde.
Contemplating the potential shift from the Trump administration to a Biden administration, Hyde stated ONE Future’s approach would be to create flexibility.
“ONE Future is administration agnostic,” said Hyde. “Our approach did not differ between Obama and Trump.”
Operating in 13 of the 38 production basins, and coupled with other areas of the value chain spanning from various regions of the United States, ONE Future’s data represents a large portion of U.S. natural gas supply. Committed to ensuring natural gas will remain a long term fuel supply, ONE Future plans to continue its drive in embracing technological advancements and collaborating with experts to achieve its goals and preserve the placeholding of natural gas in today’s society as well as that of the future.
With its current enrollment including Antero Resources, Apache, Ascent Resources, Atmos Energy, BHE Pipeline Group, BHP, Boardwalk Pipelines, Caerus Operating LLC, Con Edison, Crestwood, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Eagle Claw Midstream, Enbridge, Encino Acquisition Partners, EQT, Equinor, Equitrans Midstream, HESS, Kinder Morgan, National Grid, New Jersey Natural Gas, NW Natural, ONE Gas, Oneok, Southern Gas Company, Southern Star Central Gas Pipeline, Southwestern Energy, Summit Utilities, TC Energy, Williams, Woodland Midstream, and Excel Energy, it is unmistaken that ONE Future’s goals can be achieved and the industry improved and secured as a whole.
ONE Future describes its methodology as science-based and goal-oriented. It allows its members to succeed by allowing for their own cost-effective and efficient approach to achieving their methane intensity goal. Importance is placed on the progress made as it directly influences the total combined intensity rate. With its members remaining committed and implementing improvements, its 2025 goals should be accomplished with ease and allow for a world of natural-gas use paired equally with a socially and environmentally responsible industry.
About the author: Nick Vaccaro is a freelance writer and photographer. In addition to providing technical writing services, he is an HSE consultant in the oil and gas industry with eight years of experience. He also contributes to Louisiana Sportsman Magazine and follows and photographs American Kennel Club field and herding trials. Nick has a BA in Photojournalism from Loyola University and resides in the New Orleans area. 210-240-7188 [email protected].