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Frequent Questions

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What is the Natural Gas STAR Program?

Launched in 1993, the Natural Gas STAR Program is a flexible, voluntary partnership that encourages oil and natural gas companies - both domestically and abroad - to adopt proven, cost-effective technologies and practices that improve operational efficiency and reduce methane emissions. Methane is emitted as a result of oil production and in all aspects of the natural gas industry, from drilling and production, through processing and storage, to transmission and distribution. Given methane's role as both a potent greenhouse gas and clean energy source, reducing these emissions can have significant environmental, economic, and operational benefits.

In 2006, EPA launched Natural Gas STAR International, a global partnership with oil and natural gas companies. Natural Gas STAR International builds on the success of the domestic Program, significantly increasing opportunities to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations worldwide.

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What is the Natural Gas STAR International Program?

The United States is a partner in the Global Methane Initiative Exit EPA Disclaimer, an international public-private initiative that advances the cost-effective, recovery and use of methane as a clean energy source. Global Methane Initiative (formerly Methane to Markets) was launched in November 2004 when 14 national governments signed on as partners. The Initiative has since grown to include 40 partner governments and the European Commission. Under this framework, in 2006, EPA launched Natural Gas STAR International, a global partnership with oil and natural gas companies. Natural Gas STAR International builds on the success of the domestic Natural Gas STAR Program, which has partnered with oil and natural gas companies in the United States since 1993 to promote cost-effective methane emission reduction activities. Membership in Natural Gas STAR International is open to all oil and natural gas companies operating worldwide. Follow the link to learn more about the Natural Gas STAR International Program.

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Who participates in the Natural Gas STAR Program?

The Natural Gas STAR Program is designed for the oil and natural gas industry. Through this Program, EPA partners with companies in the production, gathering and processing, transmission, and distribution sectors. The Program has more than 120 partner companies, both domestically (based in the United States) and abroad, and is endorsed by 20 major industry trade associations.

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What are the benefits to participating in the Natural Gas STAR Program?

The Natural Gas STAR Program was created through collaboration with industry advisors. The Program, in conjunction with its partner companies, serves as a credible and trusted resource for oil and natural gas companies interested in reducing methane emissions. By participating in this Program, partners drive innovation and build a lasting record of their accomplishments. Some other key benefits include:

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How do I join the Natural Gas STAR Program?

To become a partner in EPA's Natural Gas STAR Program, simply review and sign the Program's one-page Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This initiates the partnership, demonstrates your company's commitment to the Program, and identifies company points of contact—a Natural Gas STAR Implementation Manger responsible for implementing this voluntary agreement and a Media Liaison/Public Relations Manager responsible for communicating participation to employees and cooperating with EPA efforts to publicize the Program. By signing this MOU, your company signifies its intent to evaluate activities that reduce methane emissions, implement them when feasible, and report these activities to EPA on an annual basis.

Joining and participating in the Natural Gas STAR International Program follows an identical process.

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Once I join the Program, what is required of a partner?

Once you join, participating in the Program involves the following key steps:

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I am not directly involved in the oil and natural gas industry. Can I still join the Natural Gas STAR Program?

I am an interested citizen
While there is currently no provision for non-industry partnership with the Natural Gas STAR Program, at your request, we will include you on our mailing list so that you can stay current on upcoming Natural Gas STAR Program Technology Transfer Workshops and the latest industry-related news and events. You are also welcome to take advantage of any of the resources available on our website.

I represent a service provider
Interested services providers to the oil and natural gas industry can submit their information on the Natural Gas STAR website. EPA will then upload that information to the Service Provider directory, which is available on the Natural Gas STAR website to partner companies and the general public. For more information, go to the Service Provider directory.

I represent a related industry trade association
Interested industry trade associations and organizations can become Natural Gas STAR endorsers. To become an endorser, contact a Natural Gas STAR Program Representative.

The EPA has a host of voluntary programs that partner with U.S. businesses, industries, trade associations, communities, universities, and state and local governments to solve environmental problems not generally addressed by laws and regulations, such as reducing greenhouse gases, encouraging the design and use of energy-efficient products and buildings, and encouraging green chemical product design and engineering. For more information, visit EPA's Partnership Program website.

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Why focus on methane?

EPA has established this voluntary program to reduce methane emissions because it is a potent greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2) in trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100-year period and is emitted from a variety of natural and human-influenced sources. Methane is also the primary constituent of natural gas, an important energy source.

If you are interested in learning more about global warming and its potential impacts, please visit EPA's climate change website.

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How much methane is emitted from oil and natural gas systems? What are the major emission sources?

According to the EPA Inventory of U.S Greenhouse Gases and Sinks: 1990-2011 report, dated April 2013, methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems make up 2.2 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Methane emissions occur in all sectors of the natural gas industry, from drilling and production, through gathering and processing and transmission, to distribution. These emissions occur through normal operation, routine maintenance, fugitive leaks, system upsets, and venting of equipment. In the oil industry, some underground crude contains natural gas that is entrained in the oil at high reservoir pressures. When oil is removed from the reservoir, associated natural gas is produced.

Additionally, the inventory shows that the oil and natural gas industry emitted 436 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of methane in 2011. Of this amount, 48% was from production operations, 11% from processing, 25% from transmission and storage systems, and 16% from distribution systems. Oil and natural gas systems are the largest human-made source of methane emissions (25 percent) in the United States. For more information on methane emission sources, please visit the EPA's website.

Similarly, according to the EPA Global Anthropogenic Non CO2 Greenhouse Gas Emissions: 1990-2030 report, dated December 2012, oil and natural gas operations are a significant source of global methane emissions, constituting approximately 23 percent of total human-made methane emissions. The report also indicates that in 2005, global oil and natural gas methane emissions totaled approximately 1,542.7 million tonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).

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