The Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management’s (FECM) Methane Mitigation Technologies program began in 2016 as part of an effort to prioritize the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions across the United States. Since then, FECM has been investing in technologies and infrastructure that will minimize the environmental impacts associated with the production, transportation, and utilization of fossil energy sources across the United States, including coal, oil, and natural gas—with a specific focus on methane mitigation.

Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and accounts for about 20 percent of global emissions—the second most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. However, methane has a short atmospheric life—therefore, the immediate reduction of methane emissions is a key opportunity to slow the rapid rate of global warming. 

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the scale of reduction of global methane emissions could decide whether global warming can be kept below 1.5°C and whether tipping points will be reached, which would accelerate irreversible changes to the climate. 

The Methane Mitigation Technologies program aims to eliminate non-trivial methane emissions from the oil and gas supply chain by 2030 in support of the Administration’s mission of addressing climate change.  These non-trivial methane emissions include methane production, processing, transportation, and use. 

The Methane Mitigation Technologies program is focused on developing accurate, cost effective and efficient technology solutions and best practices to identify, measure, monitor and eliminate methane emissions from these sources. Methane mitigation research and development (R&D) efforts include advanced materials of pipeline construction, monitoring sensors, data management systems, and more efficient and flexible compressor stations. Research efforts for methane emissions quantification will focus on developing technologies to detect, locate, and measure emissions. This includes the development and validation of measurement sensor technologies for the collection, dissemination, and analysis of emissions data, which will inform efforts, such as the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and orphan well remediation programs of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Interior (DOI), respectively. 

The Office is also working on creating innovative solutions to reduce associated gas flaring and venting, including alternative uses for the “stranded” natural gas, through modular technologies designed to convert the gas to higher-value solid and liquid products that can be transported efficiently. In addition, modular conversion technologies designed to generate hydrogen as a clean, distributed energy carrier is also being pursued.

The Natural Gas Hydrogen program will support the Departmental efforts on development of hydrogen technologies that help contribute to a carbon-pollution-free economy. The fastest and most reliable path to advance a hydrogen economy is to build on low-cost, readily available natural gas and existing natural gas infrastructure. The Natural Gas Hydrogen Research program will focus on advancing technologies for the “carbon-neutral” production, transportation, and geologic storage of hydrogen sourced from natural gas. 

The Undocumented Orphaned Well Research Program aims to develop technologies and methodologies to enable the finding and characterization of undocumented orphaned wells by determining their physical locations, methane emissions, wellbore integrity, and any additional environmental impacts. This program focuses on undocumented orphaned oil and natural gas wells located on private, State, Federal and Tribal land across the United States.

The Methane Emissions Reduction Program provides financial and technical assistance to monitor and reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and for environmental restoration of well sites. Through this combination of technical and financial assistance, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will support projects that help reduce inefficiencies of U.S. oil and gas operations, create new jobs in energy communities, and realize near-term emission reductions.

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Last Updated: October 23, 2023