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US set to meet 2020 emissions reduction target

Oilfield Technology,

According to US Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, the US is on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.

‘About half of that progress we have made is from the natural gas boom, in this case the market driven substitution for coal’, Moniz told reporters on Thursday, at a session hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington.

‘Eventually, if we are going to get down to really low carbon emissions, natural gas, just like coal, would need to have carbon capture. But that looks to be quite a way off. In the meantime, gas will actually be part of the solution’.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has found that natural gas is the fastest growing fossil fuel in the US energy outlook. Global natural gas consumption corresponds with production gains seen from shale and other unconventional deposits.

In regards to the possible dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, Moniz said, ‘to my knowledge, I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater’.

However, the Energy Secretary did acknowledge other environmental concerns associated with natural gas development including poor completion of wells, surface spills of flowback water, methane emissions and air quality problems around production sites.

‘All of these are manageable. We know what to do about completing a well, etc., but manageable still has the requirement of being managed’, Moniz emphasised. 'Self-enforcement' by the industry is vital.

Moniz additionally indicated that the Obama administration is ‘working hard’ to evaluate natural gas export proposals.

While the Energy Department has approved two applications to export natural gas to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the US, 15 other applications are awaiting a decision, with proposals to export up to 29 billion ft3 of natural gas to non-free trade partners.

Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.

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