Approach to Climate Change
As a business, our most significant climate impact is methane emissions, a greenhouse gas (GHG). Since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that methane is 25 times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide, Equitrans is working to minimize methane emissions. As a natural gas pipeline owner and operator, methane is the primary component of the natural gas that we gather from the point of extraction, move to processing, and deliver to consumers. We will continue to understand, assess, and improve our management of and approach to methane emission mitigation.
Natural gas, and subsequently methane, is a resource necessary to meet our country’s current and future energy needs. Compared to other fossil fuels, natural gas produces significantly less GHG emissions when combusted. Nevertheless, we recognize the importance of making changes to mitigate the impact of GHG emissions, while also meeting increasing energy demands. To achieve this balance, Equitrans commits to reducing our GHG emissions, recognizing that simply meeting regulatory requirements for greenhouse gas emissions is not sufficient. We are determined to meet and exceed applicable compliance requirements by actively applying related best practices to reduce our carbon footprint.
For 2019, after one full year of operations as a standalone company, we are pleased to share our first comprehensive calculation of our Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions for assets that are owned 100% by Equitrans and for Eureka assets.
Scope 1 Direct Greenhouse Gas Emissions
(Metric Tons CO2e)*
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)1,576,147.5
Scope 2 Indirect Greenhouse Gas Emissions
(Metric Tons CO2e)†
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)38,408.6
Scope 3 Other Indirect Greenhouse Gas Emissions
(Metric Tons CO2e)‡
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)204,211,813
Nitrous Oxide (N2O)102,025
Current Regulatory Requirements
Presently, the only federal methane regulation that affects our assets is 40 CFR Part 60 Subpart OOOOa or Quad Oa. Announced in 2016, Quad Oa was the first regulation to explicitly target greenhouse gases. Currently, Equitrans’ assets affected by Quad Oa are reciprocating compressors, pneumatic controllers, storage vessels, and fugitive emission components at compressor stations, depending on their date of construction, reconstruction, or modification. All of our applicable operations meet Quad Oa compliance. Additionally, we have expanded our leak detection program at compressor stations that would otherwise not be subject to a leak detection requirement.
Methane Intensity Rate*
Generally, GHG emissions at the federal level are currently required to be reported to the EPA if a facility’s emissions exceed 25,000 metric tons of CO2e. This is involves submitting an annual report on the facility’s GHG emissions as required by the EPA’s greenhouse gas reporting rules in 40 CFR 98 Subpart W. Currently, 12 of our facilities emit 25,000 metric tons or more of CO2e, and we report GHG emissions for each of these facilities to the EPA. None of our GHG emissions are covered under emissions-limiting regulations, beyond Quad Oa.
Current state regulatory requirements for methane are included in air permits from environmental agencies. In most cases, methane control requirements are a co-benefit to Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions and are not explicitly stated. As both methane and VOCs are present in natural gas, Clean Air Act regulations that govern VOCs also subsequently control for methane. Pennsylvania compressor station requirements are the sole exception to this practice, as the new Pennsylvania General Permit 5 (GP-5) for compressor stations, processing plants, and transmission stations explicitly includes methane requirements. Equitrans presently holds one GP-5 permit, along with several older permit versions. A few other states require methane emissions to be reported to state environmental agencies. These include Ohio, which mandates methane emissions from Title V facilities to be reported, and West Virginia.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategies
At Equitrans, we seek to reduce our GHG emissions from all of our assets. We are a member of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America’s Methane Commitment, the American Petroleum Institute’s Environmental Partnership, and the ONE Future Coalition, a group of natural gas companies committed to limiting methane emissions to 1 percent across the value chain by 2025.
Gathering and Boosting
GHG Emissions Intensity
GHG Emissions Intensity
Our Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) team plays a significant role in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. The team’s main approach to identifying and repairing leaks is to use an infrared camera that can recognize leaking natural gas with great accuracy. After identification and documentation of a leak, our LDAR team repairs the leak and then takes another image of the leak site to compare the addressed leak image to the unaddressed one, subsequently confirming that natural gas is no longer escaping.
When a planned blowdown occurs for maintenance or testing purposes, we recycle the discharge gas at compressor stations before it can be vented to the atmosphere, where the station is physically set-up to do so. This is done through suction as the suction pressure is less than the pipeline discharge pressure, causing the gas to move to the compressor station rather than being vented to the atmosphere. Previously, we conducted blowdowns at our compressor stations annually for emergency shutdown (ESD) testing in a method that vented all gas to the atmosphere. Recently, however, we have changed our operating procedures in line with Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) guidance for ESD tests that allow for the blocking of vents during testing as long as a full initial test demonstrates the blowdown can be completed. This new ESD testing method will help ensure that no emissions are vented to the atmosphere during a routine test. In addition to these tests, our Operations team routinely inspects compressor station sites to visually inspect the station to ensure that there are no potential issues.
Our newer compressor stations come equipped with instrument air systems that run pneumatic controllers. These air-driven controllers prevent natural gas from being released into the atmosphere. We also proactively replaced many of our older high-bleed pneumatic controllers that can bleed more than six standard cubic feet of methane per hour with newer versions with low bleed rates. These newer stations are also equipped with air or electric systems to start their engines rather than the natural gas used for older stations which has associated greenhouse gas emissions. For the future, we are evaluating the use of electric compressor stations to further reduce our GHG emissions.
We also practice “work-stacking” for maintenance on our compressor stations to reduce the number of required station shutdowns. By “stacking” maintenance which would otherwise require multiple blowdowns, we reduce emissions while concurrently maximizing equipment uptime and availability.
Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Currently, Equitrans has not yet established a baseline year for emissions from which to make reduction of GHG emissions calculations. However, Equitrans is currently evaluating our approach to this baseline calculation with the intent of reporting respective reductions in future years.
Approach to Air Emissions
Air Emissions (Metric Tons)*
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)1,647.5
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)598.4
Carbon Monoxide (CO)472.1
Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP)300.9
Particulate Matter (PM)136.2
Equitrans is committed to meeting or exceeding air emissions requirements across all of our assets and striving for enhanced performance that goes beyond compliance. As part of our objective, we remain diligent in identifying asset areas where our air emissions can be eliminated or reduced.
Across our geographic footprint, we quantify our operations’ impact to air quality through our emissions inventory reporting process required by each state in which we operate. These reports, along with our compliance with state and federal regulations, verify that Equitrans does not violate the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
We also utilize a Work Management System to ensure that our Operations team maintains equipment in accordance with its applicable maintenance schedule. This regular maintenance minimizes air emissions to the atmosphere. Our Design and Construction Manual, which outlines Equitrans’ standards for equipment selection and work procedures, also is utilized to engineer and build facilities using methods that minimize air emissions.
Evaluating Our Emissions Performance
We evaluate our performance to continue reducing our emissions. We aim to ensure these strategies work well through meticulous evaluations of our emissions performance and practical adjustments when and where our processes can be improved. We regularly evaluate our routine compliance reporting to proactively identify potential compliance issues and work to correct any identified gaps in a timely manner. We expect to continue our methane reduction efforts by evaluating and identifying methods of further improvement to our management practices, which we will document in future reporting years.
We have also recently formed an internal multi-disciplinary Methane Emissions Reduction Committee to identify cost-effective methods to reduce methane emissions and emissions of other co-benefit pollutants. The Committee is also working to improve emissions-related data in an effort to better identify target areas for emissions reductions and to drive future reduction actions.