Natural Gas STAR Program
The Natural Gas STAR Program provides a framework for partner companies with U.S. oil and gas operations to implement methane reducing technologies and practices and document their voluntary emission reduction activities. By joining the Program, partners commit to: 1) evaluate their methane emission reduction opportunities, 2) implement methane reduction projects where feasible, and 3) annually report methane emission reduction actions to the EPA.
By working together to reduce methane emissions, EPA and Natural Gas STAR partners are successfully improving performance, increasing natural gas supply, saving money, and protecting the environment. Participation in the Natural Gas STAR Program has numerous benefits, including:
- Information Sharing and Technology Transfer – EPA facilitates Technology Transfer and Annual Implementation Workshops to help partners learn about new and innovative technologies and practices.
- Peer Networking – Partners can participate in Technology Transfer Workshops, Annual Implementation Workshops, and Web-based communications to build strong networks with industry peers and keep up on industry trends, initiatives, and the latest technologies.
- Voluntary Record of Reductions – Through Program participation and reporting, companies create a permanent record of their voluntary accomplishments in reducing methane emissions. In addition, annual reporting allows EPA to provide feedback to partners through individual, detailed summary reports.
- Public Recognition – EPA provides recognition to highlight partner achievements in articles, industry journals, technical studies and fact sheets. EPA also helps partners communicate Program achievements to shareholders, customers, and the public.
Becoming a Natural Gas STAR partner and participating in the Program involves the following steps:
- Step 1 - Sign a One-Page Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): This step initiates the Partnership, demonstrates the company’s commitment to the Program, and identifies company points of contact. By signing the MOU, the company is signifying its intent to evaluate current and future technologies and management practices that reduce methane emissions, implement them when cost-effective, and report these activities to EPA on an annual basis.
- Step 2 – Develop an Implementation Plan: The Natural Gas STAR Program works to advance cost-effective technologies that reduce methane emissions, but it is up to each partner to determine which technologies and practices it will implement to reduce emissions. The Implementation Plan facilitates the development of a strategy for how partners will identify non-regulatory methane emission reduction activities they are undertaking, plan new activities, and develop mechanisms for tracking methane emission reduction data and activities. An Implementation Plan is a living document that changes over time as each partner's goals and commitment evolve. Companies develop an Implementation Plan within 6 to 12 months of joining.
- Step 3 – Execute the Program: The Implementation Plan provides a roadmap that defines the key elements of a company's participation in the Program. While Natural Gas STAR Program representatives are available to provide assistance in identifying and prioritizing technologies and practices based on company-specific circumstances, it is ultimately up to partners to ensure that their program moves forward and that cost-effective activities are implemented. Over time, partners are encouraged to continue expanding on their emission reduction activities by communicating their achievements and engaging management and operations personnel.
- Step 4 – Submit an Annual Progress Report: After one full calendar year of participation in the Program, partners begin submitting annual reports documenting the previous year’s emission reduction activities and corresponding methane emissions reductions. More detailed guidance about the annual reporting process can be found on the Reporting tab.
Natural Gas STAR Program MOU and Implementation Plan Forms
|Gathering & Processing|
Annual reporting is a key requirement to remain a partner in the Natural Gas STAR Program. Following the first full calendar year of participation in the Program, EPA requires partners to submit an annual report documenting the previous year’s methane emission reduction activities. It is important to note that all reported emission reduction activities must be voluntary and not driven by a regulatory requirement, whether it is environmental or otherwise.
In the spring of each year, EPA distributes annual reporting packages with the information that partners need to complete their annual reports. Natural Gas STAR encourages partners to report current and past activities that have resulted in methane emissions reductions. Through Program participation and reporting, companies create a permanent record of their voluntary accomplishments in reducing methane emissions. It is through annual reporting that partners receive an individual detailed summary report. This document summarizes the progress a company has made since joining the Program.
- How do Partners Report to EPA?
The Natural Gas STAR Program has developed an online reporting system to allow partners to quickly and easily submit annual methane emissions reduction data to EPA. Access to the Natural Gas STAR Online Reporting SystemExit is password-protected to keep company information private. Only the Natural Gas STAR Program and its contractors may access the information submitted by partners.
- What Is Included in an Annual Report?
Natural Gas STAR annual reporting consists of voluntary (non-regulatory driven) methane emission reduction activities that partner companies have implemented in the previous year, including corresponding methane emissions reductions achieved, and to the extent available, the economics associated with each activity. Partners are also encouraged to report past activities that have resulted in methane emissions reductions, but that have not been previously reported to EPA.
The implementation of certain technologies and practices reduces methane emissions for multiple years; therefore, Natural Gas STAR allows these to count toward a partner company’s emissions reductions beyond the initial year of implementation. Natural Gas STAR designates the maximum length of time that emissions reductions can accrue as “sunset dates.” Companies may either report the corresponding methane emissions reductions each year up to the allowable sunset date, or allow EPA to automatically roll-up their reductions for the designated period of time. View a complete list of Natural Gas STAR recommended technologies and practices and corresponding sunset dates.
The Natural Gas STAR Program is also available to assist partners in conducting economic analyses related to the implementation of cost-effective technologies and practices. Please contact a EPA Natural Gas STAR Program Manager or STAR Service Representative for assistance.
This page highlights the methane emissions reductions that domestic partners have achieved, as well as the variety of technologies and practices they have implemented to reduce methane emissions.
Natural Gas STAR Program partners have operations in all of the major industry sectors (production, gathering and processing, transmission, and distribution) that deliver natural gas to end users.
Each year, these partners submit an annual report documenting their previous year’s methane emission reduction activities. Since the inception of the program, the Program's domestic partners have eliminated more than 1.26 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of methane emissions by implementing approximately 150 cost-effective technologies and practices. The section below provides data on activities implemented by partners in 2014 to reduce methane emissions from their operations
During calendar year 2015, U.S. domestic partners submitted an annual report detailing their efforts in 2014 to reduce methane emissions from their operations. These voluntary activities consisted of nearly 46 technologies and practices and resulted in domestic emissions reductions of 52 Bcf for the year. These methane emissions reductions have cross-cutting benefits on domestic energy supply, industrial efficiency, revenue generation, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The emission reductions are equivalent to:
- The additional revenue of more than $206 million in natural gas sales (assumes an average natural gas price of $4.00 per thousand cubic feet).
- The avoidance of 24.7 million tonnes CO2 equivalent.
- The carbon sequestered annually by 20.3 million acres of U.S. forests.
The charts below present the 2014 methane emissions reductions by sector as reported by Natural Gas STAR partners and the total domestic methane emissions reductions as of 2014.
|Gathering and Processing||2|
|Year||Annual (Bcf)||Cumulative (Bcf)|
Click on a tab below to view sector-specific charts displaying the 2014 methane emissions reductions reported by partners and the top technologies and practices that were employed.
- Production Sector
Production Sector Accomplishments
Production sector partners reported 42.1 Bcf of methane emissions reductions in 2014—and a total of 901.9 Bcf since 1990. The following is a list of top technologies and practices used by production sector partners in 2014:
- Artificial lift: install plunger lifts
- Install smart lift automated systems on gas wells
- Install vapor recovery units (VRUs)
- Optimize gas well unloading times
- Install and/or convert pump to electric, mechanical, and/or solar
- Identify and replace high-bleed pneumatic devices
- Artificial lift: gas lift
The chart below shows the top technologies and practices used by production sector partners since 1990.
Production Sector Accomplishments Methane Emissions
32 Artificial list: install
15 Install VRUs 11 Identify and replace high-
bleed pneumatic devices
8 Install smart lift automated
systems on gas wells
6 Install flares 3 Install/convert pump
3 Other 22
- Gathering and Processing Sector
Gathering & Processing Sector Accomplishments
Gathering and processing sector partners reported 1.1 Bcf of methane emissions reductions in 2014—and a total of 50.3 Bcf since 1990. The following is a list of top technologies and practices used by gathering and processing sector partners in 2014:
- Install flash tank separators on glycol dehydrator
- Install electric compressors
- Install and/or convert pump to electric, mechanical, and/or solar
- Redesign blowdown and/or alter ESD practices
- Replace glycol dehydration with methanol injection
- Replace gas pneumatics with instrument air systems
- Directed Inspection & Maintenance (DI&M): gas plants and booster stations
The chart below shows the top technologies and practices used by gathering and processing sector partners since 1990.
Gathering and Processing Sector Accomplishments Methane Emissions
DI&M: aerial leak detection 18 Redesign blowdown/alter
9 Nitrogen rejection unit
9 Eliminate unnecessary
equipment and/or systems
9 DI&M: leak detection -
IR camera/optical imaging
6 DI&M: gas plants and
5 Improve measurement
system to track gas loss
5 Other 39
- Transmission Sector
Transmission Sector Accomplishments
Transmission sector partners reported 8.2 Bcf of methane emissions reductions in 2014—and a total of 280.4 Bcf since 1993. The following is a list of top technologies and practices used by transmission sector partners in 2014:
- Use of turbines at compressor stations
- Use pipeline pumpdown to lower pressure
- Replace wet compressor seals with dry seals
- Install electric compressors
- Use hot taps for in-service pipeline connections
- Pipeline replacement and repair
- Reduce and/or downgrade system pressure
The chart below shows the top technologies and practices used by transmission sector partners since 1993.
Transmission Sector Accomplishments Methane Emissions
Use pipeline pumpdown
to lower pressure
21 DI&M: compressor stations 16 Use of turbines at
15 Replace wet compressor
seals with dry seals
12 Install VRU on pipeline
11 DI&M: surface facilities 5 Use composite wrap
5 Other 15
- Distribution Sector
Distribution Sector Accomplishments
Distribution sector partners reported 0.8 Bcf of methane emissions reductions in 2014—and a total of 46.8 Bcf since 1993. The following is a list of top technologies and practices used by distribution sector partners in 2014:
- Identify and rehabilitate leaky distribution pipe
- Directed Inspection & Maintenance (DI&M): surface facilities
- Install excess flow valves
- Improve system design and/or operation
- Third-party damage prevention and/or reduce emissions
- Convert to instrument air systems
- Pneumatic devices to mechanical and/or electronic
The chart below shows the top technologies and practices used by distribution sector partners since 1993.
Distribution Sector Accomplishments Methane Emissions
DI&M: surface facilities 42 Identify and rehabilitate
leaky distribution pipe
31 DI&M: survey and repair
13 Identify and replace high-
bleed pneumatic devices
4 Use automated systems
to reduce pressure
2 DI&M: compressor station-
1 Inject blowdown gas into
low pressure mains
1 Third-party damage
The Natural Gas STAR Program prepares accomplishments summary reports annually to capture a snapshot of the Program's achievements at the time of original publication. Please refer to the most current information above for methane emissions reductions achieved and top technologies and practices implemented by partners. You may also view historical summary reports that document the accomplishments for previous years.
Partners can derive the most benefit from the Natural Gas STAR Program by incorporating its principles into day-to-day operations. Raising awareness about the Program and motivating employees to proactively seek out—and communicate about—new opportunities promotes strong participation and success without requiring significant additional resources. This section provides a brief description of concepts and ideas used by partners to generate this corporate momentum.
- Form a Cross-Functional Team
Partners have found that establishing cross-functional Natural Gas STAR teams can facilitate comprehensive execution of the Program. By engaging representatives from management, EH&S, operations and maintenance, engineering, supply chain and project planning, Natural Gas STAR principles and messages can reach a wider audience. By educating these representatives on Natural Gas STAR, each can contribute ideas for how the Program can be implemented within their function.
In addition to considering technologies and practices for implementation, the cross-functional team can identify key stakeholders, consider how the team is going to communicate, and identify and resolve barriers. Benefits of a functional team include:
- Increasing collaboration with staff that are involved with day-to-day operations.
- Receiving input and support from staff who will be responsible for implementing or managing the methane emission reduction technologies and activities.
- Improving communications with management to ensure continued support and buy-in.
- Providing a platform for vetting program ideas and priorities.
- Evaluate Methane Emission Reduction Opportunities
The Natural Gas STAR Program has developed a broad range of tools and technical resources to help evaluate and implement proven methane emission reduction activities. Periodic reviews of the following resources can ensure that a company is aware of the latest technologies and practices that are relevant for their industry sector.
- Technical Documents — Natural Gas STAR provides information on more than 80 innovative, cost-effective methane emission reduction opportunities. Resources include Lessons Learned Studies and Partner Reported Opportunities (PRO) Fact Sheets. The Recommended Technologies and Practices section of the Natural Gas STAR website provides a comprehensive list of these opportunities, including implementation costs and anticipated payback.
- Natural Gas STAR Partner Update —These newsletters provide information about the Natural Gas STAR Program, cutting edge emissions reduction practices and technologies, partner accomplishments, workshops/events and other sector related news.
- Communicate Success
Natural Gas STAR partner companies work hard to advance emission reduction technologies and practices. Effectively communicating success helps a company to maintain momentum, further engage employees, and share achievements with other stakeholders.
- Announcing Your Partnership — Companies new to the partnership are encouraged to announce that they have joined Natural Gas STAR in their company newsletter, website, or in a press release to advertise to individuals within the company, as well as outside entities, the company's commitment to the environment.
- Publicizing Your Natural Gas STAR Accomplishments — After your company has begun implementing technologies and practices as part of your commitment to reducing methane emissions, you are encouraged to publicize your methane emissions reductions in your company newsletter, website, or shareholder report to illustrate the company's dedication to participating in the Program and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Natural Gas STAR Logo: As a partner in EPA's Natural Gas STAR Program, you are encouraged to use the Program's logo as part of your company's corporate communications program. The Natural Gas STAR logo can be used:
- On promotional items.
- On corporate letterhead for environmental communications.
- In trade show exhibition booths.
- As a link from a company's corporate website to the Natural Gas STAR Program home page.