Frackers, Shippers Eye Natural-Gas Leaks as Climate Change Concerns Mount

Frackers, Shippers Eye Natural-Gas Leaks as Climate Change Concerns Mount

Cheniere Energy, EQT among those dispatching drones, planes and specialized cameras to collect data amid international pressure from buyers

By Collin Eaton  Aug. 12, 2021

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa.—Drones darted in patterns above natural-gas wells in the hills of southwest Pennsylvania, as workers atop water tanks pointed specialized cameras, and a helicopter outfitted with a laser-light detection system swooped in low. All searched for an invisible enemy: methane.

The American gas industry faces growing pressure from investors and customers to prove that its fuel has a lower-carbon provenance to sell it around the world. That has led the top U.S. gas producer, EQT Corp. , and the top exporter, Cheniere Energy Inc., to team up and track the emissions from wells that feed major shipping terminals.

The companies are trying to collect reliable data on releases of methane—a potent greenhouse gas increasingly attracting scrutiny for its contributions to climate change—and demonstrate they can reduce these emissions over time.

“What we’re trying to really do is build the trust up to the end user that our measurements are correct,” said David Khani, EQT’s chief financial officer. “Let’s put our money where our mouth is.”

Natural gas has boomed world-wide over the past few decades as countries moved to supplant dirtier fossil fuels such as coal and oil. It has long been touted as a bridge to a lower-carbon future. But while gas burns cleaner than coal, gas operations leak methane, which has a more potent effect on atmospheric warming than carbon dioxide, though it makes up a smaller percentage of total greenhouse gas emissions.

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Hell! You'd Think They'd Want To Do It To Cut Down On Losses!

I agree.  Unfortunately the industry has done a lousy job of reading the tea leaves and are severely behind the power curve now.  Even before the current level of pressure from investors, banking, private equity and end users,  there were easily adopted equipment upgrades that would have recouped something close to 60% of their costs in the short term and bought some badly needed goodwill and political support.  This is what happens when an industry is so used to getting its way and so reluctant to change that it finds itself with many lost opportunities and few options.  If we had ditched coal six years ago when the opportunity was presented, natural gas would have been the only viable option as renewable were too costly and inefficient.  Now in many scenarios they are not only cost competitive but in some cases cheaper.  Se La vie.

At current settlement prices and the strip prices, I wouldn't be surprised that some coal is not only cost competitive but somewhat cheaper.  However, this time many coal companies/mines aren't around to take advantage and many end users have replaced coal with other energy sources. They no longer need it at any price differential.  For many end users that can switch between coal and natural gas, they may go with coal on a temporary basis but will be right back to gas when the price goes back down.  The cure for high high prices.  Pent up demand will be satisfied and I expect that gas will be well under $4 in the not too distant future.  I doubt any source of meaningful investment capital is going to rush to get back into coal.  That ship has sailed.

Yes, it has sailed.  That's why 44% of the power that you are using to keep yourself cool right now is coming from coal generation.

It was 60%, not long ago.  And 44% will soon be considerably less as many coal fired plants are due to be decommissioned in the next few years.

My electricity comes from SWEPCO.  Here is where SWEPCO is headed.

U.S. utility-scale electricity generation by source, amount, and share of total in 20201

Preliminary data as of February 2021

Energy source

Billion kWh

Share of total

Total - all sources


Fossil fuels (total)



Natural Gas






Petroleum (total)



Petroleum liquids



Petroleum coke



Other gases






Renewables (total)









Solar (total)






Solar thermal



Biomass (total)






Landfill gas



Municipal solid waste (biogenic)



Other biomass waste






Pumped storage hydropower3



Other sources4



Sorry Skip, I was out with the china virus.  Yes, I know what you're thinking!  One of those stupid right wingers that didn't get the shot.  As usual, you're wrong again!!  Received my 2nd shot of Pfizer on April 9th.  

Back to the power generation and where your power comes from!  I've been in the power business for over 30 years.  It humors me that you think your power comes from Swepco.  Yes, that probably is who receives your payment.  Kroger will take your payment for steak and eggs also.  Do you think that's where they come from too? 

From all of your talk on here about how bad ERCOT is I thought you would at least know where your power comes from.  Swepco is owned by AEP and they are members of the Southwest Power Pool.  This is the equivalent of ERCOT for our area.  Here is the link to their site.  Right on the front page is the generation mix.  Looks like wind and nuclear are in a dead heat at 5% while solar is rocking at one half of one percent.  You can figure out where the rest of YOUR power is coming from.

EgiB:  glad you have recovered from the virus.

I've been following and contributing to GHS from the start.  The overwhelming majority of the followers who offer an opinion or ask a question are reasonable, sincere interested parties. Occasionally, we have someone join in who is needlessly rude.  You would be one of those.

The EIA is a sub-agency of the US Department of Energy, and it tracks power generation within the US and power usage.  It is possible that the chart Skip posted above is incorrect, but highly unlikely.  The chart reflects nation-wide electricity sources.  

I've spent no years in the power business, but I do know a little about the regional management of the grid within the lower 48, Texas excepted.  The Southwest Power Pool generates NO electricity.  It is a non-profit that manages the grid for a designated area.  Individual utilities generate power, and transmit that power through power lines either it owns, or some other utility owns.  The transmission process is managed by SPP.  Utilities generate power, and have customers, to whom it supplies power, and bills the customer for that power.  

The pie chart you refer to on the SPP website is a "snap-shot" of the power generation mix in time.  In fact, it does show that the generators which are part of the SPP are currently generating more than 40% of the supply, as of 2:00PM today.  That does not mean that the EIA chart is incorrect. 

It's good to hear that you've recovered from COVID, EigB.  Things have been bad here and may not get better for a few weeks but vaccination rates are up so I'm hopeful.  I've been quarantining and taking care to go out as little as possible.  I would have responded sooner but I have been in court all day and just got home.  I am an expert witness in a mineral servitude case and we will be delayed because of Ida so I'll be back again tomorrow.  I have nothing to add to Steve's reply.  I think it was spot on.


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