Methane is not just an environmental concern – it’s also a big economic issue.
More than half of Pennsylvania households depend on natural gas to fuel their homes. Even by the most conservative estimates, the amount of energy lost to methane emissions is enough to supply roughly 70,000 homes – about half the City of Pittsburgh.
But sizable energy savings can be accomplished at relative low cost. A report by ICF International for the Environmental Defense Fund found that industry could reduce methane emissions 40 percent below 2018 projections at an average annual cost of less than one cent per thousand cubic feet. This translates into a savings of over $100 million per year for consumers, and $164 million for oil and gas operators.
economics and jobs
Even with today’s dramatically low natural gas prices, reduction of emissions through available equipment and established leak detection practices are highly cost effective.
More than 60 companies across the country provide methane leak detection and repair (LDAR) services, with several located or headquartered in Pennsylvania.
A majority of these companies are small businesses, with fewer than fifteen employees and less than $15 million in annual revenue. Yet they provide good-paying jobs with ample opportunity for advancement from entry-level to management positions.
"Pennsylvania, a state that previously had no LDAR firms, gained two firms after the state began requiring LDAR for general compression station permits in 2013."
Datu Research, March 2017
growing small business
What's more, the methane mitigation industry is growing rapidly. More than a third of LDAR companies currently operating in the U.S. are under six years old, and most report that they expect to expand in the years ahead as more states confront methane emissions.
There's good reason to think so: methane mitigation firms are seeing growth of anywhere from 5% to 30% in states that have adopted methane regulations.
Though Pennsylvania is still early in this process, two new firms have already established their headquarters here since 2013, when DEP introduced LDAR requirements for general compression station permits.