Major Haynesville shale driller installing tech to monitor methane, reduce emissions

Major Haynesville shale driller installing tech to monitor methane, reduce emissions

Chesapeake Energy Corp. is piloting new technology in North Louisiana to monitor methane gas emissions as it looks towards reducing the carbon footprint of its natural gas drilling operations. 

The company hired Project Canary, a Denver firm that sells emissions monitoring hardware and software. The monitoring system triangulates emissions using several devices at the well site and cost pennies on the dollar, compared to the drones or flyover aircraft with infrared cameras used in the past to detect methane leaks. The self-described "responsibly sourced natural gas" could hold a premium in the market hungry for less carbon intensive and less environmentally destructive methods for energy. 

"Expectations are increasing across the board," said Brian Miller, vice president of growth and policy at Project Canary. 

The startup company considers itself the oil and gas equivalent to LEED construction certification which is for buildings which require less energy to operate.

In one situation a company used the tools to detect leaks in gaskets which were damaged by overexposure to the sun. The leaks weren't discovered by routine maintenance checks. 

The pilot project is expected to cover two pads across 10 wells in the Louisiana section of the Haynesville Shale but "the partnership may be expanded based on initial findings and market conditions", according to Chesapeake Energy. The company had 203,000 net acres leased which produce 521 million cubic feet of natural gas per day in the area.

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The Haynesville Shale produced 3.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2020, down from 3.2 trillion in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In general, natural gas production from the shale play in Louisiana has nearly doubled since 2015. 

The move is part of Chesapeake's environmental, social and governance goals which are an increasingly influential economic driver since many institutional investors require portfolio companies to consider more than just shareholder profits. 

"Leading a responsible energy future is foundational to Chesapeake's success," said Doug Lawler, chief executive officer of Chesapeake Energy in a news release. "We will be able to further demonstrate our commitment to generating shareholder value and (environmental, social and governance) excellence." 

The company recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and told Reuters 85% of its spending this year will be on its natural gas fields. 

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