Natural gas, or methane, is ubiquitous in nature and also a valuable product that is essential to California’s economy and Californians’ way of life. As our state’s leading producer of natural gas, California Resources Corporation (CRC) devotes significant resources, both in design and construction of new facilities and in retrofitting existing facilities, to minimize methane emissions.

On January 1, 2017, California law established a statewide goal of reducing methane emissions by 40 percent from a 2013 baseline by 2030 under Senate Bill 1383. To demonstrate alignment with and advance the State’s goal, CRC established an even more aggressive 2030 Methane Sustainability Goal – to reduce methane emissions from our operations by 50 percent from the same 2013 baseline year set in SB 1383.

In 2018, CRC surpassed our 2030 Methane Sustainability Goal, reducing methane emissions from our operations by 60 percent from our 2013 baseline. We continued this successful performance in 2019, achieving a reduction of 63 percent since 2013. Our 2018 and 2019 emissions were verified by an independent expert, applying California’s specified emission factors and protocols. For more information, see our Reducing Methane Emissions (PDF) infographic.

CRC Decreased Methane Emissions by Nearly 63% since 2013

The natural gas we produce is consumed by power producers to generate electricity and is transported by utilities to California homes, schools, farms and businesses. Delivering natural gas to a utility or power plant customer typically requires processing facilities and pipelines. When processing facilities or pipelines or the customer’s power plant are not available, such as during maintenance, we flare natural gas under permits issued by regulatory agencies. Flaring is a safe process that combusts the natural gas and allows us to maintain wells and oil and gas formations in a steady state of operation. We seek to minimize flaring through technologies such as vapor recovery, microturbines and compressed natural gas (CNG) production. In 2016, for example, a third party discontinued its gas transmission pipeline service to one of our fields, preventing us from transporting our natural gas to our utility customers. Although we have a permit to flare the natural gas, CRC’s Sustainability Team worked diligently with another company to install a CNG operation at our field. This CNG process has both significantly reduced our flaring and generated a useful product that powers steam generation at another field.

As described in CRC’s 2019 Annual Report on Form 10-K (PDF) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have expanded direct regulation of methane. In 2016, the EPA adopted regulations to require additional emission controls for methane, volatile organic compounds and certain other substances for new or modified oil and natural gas facilities. Although the EPA increased the flexibility of certain of its federal methane regulations in 2019, CARB implemented a more stringent Methane Rule in 2017 that requires monitoring, leak detection, repair and reporting of methane emissions from both existing and new oil and natural gas production, pipeline gathering and boosting facilities and natural gas processing plants, as well as additional controls such as tank vapor recovery to capture methane emissions. As a company that produces exclusively in California, CRC adheres to California’s stringent standards.

To support California’s methane reduction efforts and to advance CRC’s 2030 Methane Sustainability Goal, CRC implemented comprehensive inspection procedures at our fields and completed a separate project to replace certain natural gas-actuated pneumatic valves with alternatives that do not require the use of methane, such as solar powered air compression. We are expanding our statewide methane capture strategy for gas-operated pneumatic valves in the San Joaquin Basin as one of our 2020 sustainability milestone projects. Completion of these sustainability projects is a direct component of incentive compensation for our management team and all employees.

Learn more about CRC’s Long-Term Commitment to Safety and Sustainability (PDF) and read our 2019 Sustainability Report (PDF).