Dominion curbing greenhouse gas emissions

WHEELING, W.Va. — Members of West Virginia’s natural gas industry gathered at Oglebay Resort Tuesday for the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association two-day spring meeting.

They opened the day on a green note, hearing from Dominion Energy’s Cristie Neller how the company is curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Neller is Dominion’s vice president for its Eastern Pipeline Engineering & Construction Gas Infrastructure Group.

The company aims to cut methane emissions from its production facilities and pipelines by 50 percent (based on 2010 levels) by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050, she said.

Since 2010, she said, Dominion has prevented 180,000 metric tons of methan from entering the air. It’s 2030 goal is 430,000 metric tons. They’ll achieve that in three ways.

One, they’ve stopped venting their wells. Instead, they capture the gas to recycle and reuse it.

Two, they’re replacing higher-emitting equipment. For example, they’re replacing natural gas pumps with at gas wells. This reduces emission by 90 percent. And they’re replacing old cast iron and steel pipes with high pressure plastic to reduce leaks.

Three, they’re actively pursuing pipeline and equipment leak detection and repair using infrared cameras. They’re starting with easiest systems to get to and inspect, and then will keep pressing forward. “It’s about walking before you run.”

Dominion is also pursuing a few other green initiatives, she said. They already have some solar and wind farms, and plan to bring 3000 megawatts of new solar and wind production online by 2022.

Another initiative is producing renewable natural gas by capturing waste methane from hog and dairy farms, food waste, landfills and wastewater treatment. Their goal, she said, is to make renewable natural gas 4% of their system by 2040.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, Neller said, but a 1% methane offset from a farm equates to a 25% offset of methane released from homes and businesses; so producing 4% of their product from waste methane offsets all the emissions from their customer base.

Dominion has entered into a $250 million partnership with Smithfield Foods, Neller said, to create covered lagoons on their hog farms. The covered lagoons work as anaerobic digesters to capture the waste methane, clean it and reuse it.

One of the audience members complimented her and Dominion for their work in this area. “As an industry I think we really have an obligation to do the right thing,” he said.

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