Methane emissions have long been a thorn in the side of oil and gas operators, service companies and government organizations alike. But Diversified Energy, an Appalachian Basin-based service company, is ahead of schedule on its emissions reduction goal simply by having a solid plan.

“You've got to have an emissions reduction plan. You've got to look at it in great detail,” Paul Espenan, senior vice president of EHS&R (environmental health, safety and risk management) at Diversified Energy, told the audience at Hart Energy’s DUG GAS+ Conference and Expo on March 28. “I hear about new technology almost daily. If you're not properly screening that, you're not making an informed decision.”

With the Environmental Protection Agency’s new methane regulations, urgency for improved emissions detection and monitoring is heating up, as the clock is ticking for the nation to meet 2030 emissions reductions targets.

Through the company’s “aggressive” and voluntary LDAR (leak detection and repair) program, Diversified is en route to its goal of zero emissions by 2040, Espenan said.

“This year we announced that we’re seven years ahead of schedule. We hit our 2030 methane emissions reduction goal. Our 2020 baseline year, we've cut our methane intensity in half and the way that we have done that is very aggressive leak detection and repair, LDAR and pneumatic conversions,” Espenan said.

In 2021, Diversified made every operator and well tender under their employ into an LDAR technician. Equipping operations leaders to detect and repair leaks technology cuts out the middle man and increases operation speed and efficiency, allowing them to work on 114 well pads so far.

How Diversified Already Surpassed its 2030 Emissions Goals
(Source: Diversified Energy)

“If you look at the time it takes to get to a location and then the handoff of understanding where a leak is, your best bet in terms of efficiency, is to give the folks looking at [your wells] every day the tools to be able to find those leaks and fix them,” Espenan said.

Another tool in Diversified’s LDAR kit is its predictive analytics capabilities. By keeping detailed records of various types of leaks, they have been able to predict when they will occur and mitigate them before the well tender leaves the pad. Because of these upgrades, Diversified achieved a 98% no leak inspection rate in 2023.

“Having a very effective AVO [audio, visual and olfactory] program, handhelds and malfunction surveys are very important in getting your emissions down,” Espenan said. “2024 reporting gear is what's going to form the basis for the waste emissions charge… So you need to get busy on LDAR.”

And while LDAR and predictive analytics can require slightly more complex technologies, Espenan’s said the key to emissions management lies in one simple premise: measurement.

“How can you spend 200 bucks and reduce emissions by 40%? The answer is measurement,” he said. “If you put a fuel meter on a compressor engine and know what your actual fuel use is, you're going to reduce the reported emissions… If you don't have meters on your compressor engines or other things that consume fuel, and if you're not recording that data, you're missing out [on] an opportunity.”

Perhaps even more important than measurement for Diversified has been creating healthy partnerships with operators and technicians.

“Your operations people are the key. They know how to do this. You get them energized and engaged, they'll give it to you,” Espenan said. “If you do not have full collaboration with anybody who can be touched with this, as painful as it might be to involve so many people, then you're likely to fail.”