Image promoting LPO's conditional commitment to Longpath

 

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO) announced a conditional commitment to LongPath Technologies, Inc. (LongPath) for an up to $189 million loan guarantee to support the fabrication and installation of a real-time methane emissions monitoring network in the Permian, Denver-Julesburg, and Anadarko oil and gas production basins across Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Texas. LongPath’s Active Emissions Overwatch System project aims to cover 25 million acres of land with large-area remote methane monitors, providing emissions detection, location, and quantification services for tens of thousands of oil and gas sites through a subscription service. 

If finalized, the network is expected to prevent methane emissions equivalent to at least six million tons of carbon dioxide annually—that is like taking 1.3 million gasoline powered vehicles off the road—by enabling subscribers to identify and respond to methane leaks quickly. The project at its peak is anticipated to create an estimated 35 construction jobs and 266 operations jobs for regional workers, including trained experts to install and maintain the equipment, and provide competitive benefits. LongPath further provides internship opportunities with the University of Colorado to engage the future generation in technology-based climate solutions. LongPath sources many of its components from suppliers based in the United States, including Florida and California, strengthening domestic supply chains for innovative technologies.

This project underscores the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to dramatically reducing methane emissions, including from leaks in the oil and gas sector, as a way to tackle the climate crisis, protect public health, create good-paying jobs, and save consumers money. Last year, the Biden-Harris Administration took more than 100 actions under the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan, and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is accelerating adoption of cutting-edge technologies and tools to address and mitigate methane emissions and helping the United States unlock a win-win opportunity for communities and the economy. Today’s announcement is aligned with the goals of the Methane Emissions Reduction Program, created by the President’s Inflation Reduction Act, and helping states support industry efforts to cut methane emissions.

Emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas up to 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, occur across the oil and gas sector. Leaks during oil and gas production and compression, which are difficult to identify across vast production areas, are a major source of U.S. methane emissions. The longer leaks go undetected, the more planet-warming greenhouse gas enters the atmosphere. Today, monitoring is typically conducted via flyovers or using methods such as optical gas imaging (OGI) cameras, which can leave major gaps in emissions monitoring over time and space, respectively, and lead to methane leaks potentially going unnoticed for weeks or months, or undetected entirely. This is particularly true because emissions are intermittent—only continuous monitoring can reliably detect these kinds of emission sources.

In contrast, LongPath’s technology continuously identifies, localizes, and quantifies methane emissions more rapidly and at lower detection levels than conventional methods, allowing operators to mitigate leaks earlier and more often. For example, the LongPath Active Emissions Overwatch System could reduce greenhouse gas emissions leaks by approximately 90% versus the incumbent OGI technologies. In part, this is made possible because LongPath monitors sites multiple times a day, whereas OGI is often used much less frequently. The company already has nearly hundreds of square miles of oil and gas infrastructure under monitoring of its systems (i.e., 50-foot towers topped with lasers that monitor an area of nearly 8 square miles). If finalized, the LPO financing will support them in the deployment and installation of up to 24,000 square miles of coverage.

In addition to filling an important gap in current monitoring capabilities, LongPath’s modular systems are low-cost and can be safely and quickly installed on-site using local expertise. LPO works with all borrowers to create quality jobs with strong labor standards; support meaningful community and labor engagement; advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and contribute to the President’s Justice40 initiative through the development and execution of strong community benefits plans. By supporting the monitoring and mitigation of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector and in traditional energy communities—which often include low-income and communities of color—this project will help deliver new jobs and economic opportunities. Furthermore, LongPath’s technology will directly reduce environmental exposures and burdens for disadvantaged communities, such as those impacted by oil and gas operations, improving public health and delivering safer communities. 

The technology, which was developed with the University of Colorado and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), and with support from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) and other DOE grants, uses an eye-safe laser to accurately identify molecules in the air, including greenhouse gases like methane. A single laser can continuously monitor nearly 8 square miles for emissions, providing updates of the full area as often as every two hours. The system can notify operators in the event of a leak (down to .06 kg/hr) to facilitate a rapid response, reducing needless emissions and generating savings across the value chain.

The LongPath Active Emissions Overwatch System network will support emissions monitoring and methane leak reduction well beyond current capabilities, increasing efficiency and minimizing losses for subscribers. Some states, including Colorado and New Mexico, are early adopters of rigorous state-level monitoring requirements and have already approved use of LongPath’s technology. Monitoring technology is also one of many tools available to reduce emissions in line with EPA’s recent methane standards for oil and gas operations and the Methane Emissions Reduction Program.

While this conditional commitment demonstrates the Department’s intent to finance the project, the project must satisfy certain conditions, which may include reaching technical, legal, commercial, contractual, or other milestones, before the Department issues a final loan.

 

Jigar Shah
Director of the Loan Programs Office
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