U.S. driller Southwestern taps startup to monitor gas emissions

Shale producer Southwestern Energy Co. has agreed to seek environmental certification for all of its natural gas production, the latest example of how the industry is moving to address concerns about methane escaping into the atmosphere.

Southwestern said in a statement that it will seek to certify its output as “responsibly sourced gas” using independent analysis from Project Canary, a startup that measures greenhouse-gas emissions in real time. Project Canary will analyze the explorer’s wells to verify that they meet certain environmental standards, and it will install emissions monitoring devices at all of the company’s production sites.

The move by Southwestern comes as the energy industry faces unprecedented pressure from shareholders urging companies to meet environmental, social and corporate governance criteria. Investors are pushing oil and gas producers to curb their emissions, and U.S. gas exporters are offering more transparency about each cargo’s carbon footprint.

“In 2018, we saw the potential for a differentiated market that values responsibly sourced gas, and today, we add another milestone by becoming the largest independent producer to certify its entire producing asset base,” said Bill Way, Southwestern’s president and chief executive officer.

Project Canary has partnered with companies including pipeline giant Kinder Morgan Inc. and gas driller EQT Corp. But Southwestern is going a step further by seeking to certify its entire production base, Project Canary CEO Chris Romer said in an interview. The certification process includes continuous monitoring of existing and future well sites and a historical view of the well pad’s condition and management.

In April, private equity firms including Quantum Energy Partners agreed to invest $10 million in Denver-based Project Canary.

Southwestern shares rose 4.2 per cent to $5.41 on Wednesday, extending their surge this year to 81 per cent.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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