A Q&A With Dr. Thomas Fox on Certified, Differentiated, and Responsibly Sourced Gas
With increasing talk of certifying natural gas as differentiated or responsibly sourced, a number of new initiatives are emerging to claim certification. While methods for doing so are not yet standardized, it is important to review the methods that are currently in play and share what has been learned so far. To better understand the state of certified and differentiated gas, we sat down with Thomas Fox of Highwood Emissions, who recently published a report on several initiatives.
Q: What is Highwood Emissions Management’s role in the world of certified, responsibly sourced, and differentiated natural gas?
Fox: Highwood works with industry to navigate the complex web of opportunities emerging to take credit for responsible production. Once a strategy is developed, Highwood helps to implement certification programs by making sure requirements are being met and that emissions reductions are being achieved in a compliant and cost-effective manner.
We also work with stakeholders to map out and build the future of differentiated oil and natural gas. A big part of this is understanding how technologies can be used to transparently and reliably demonstrate strong performance in reducing emissions.
Q: During your research for the Voluntary Initiatives Report, did you discover any patterns across the initiatives?
Fox: Newer initiatives tend to be more quantitative, more stringent, and more transparent, which is good. However, major gaps still remain, particularly around measurement and verification.
Q: In addition to methane emissions, are there other metrics that should be considered for natural gas certification?
Fox: Different certification programs exist, and each has a slightly different scope. Some cover the full breadth of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations across the entire value chain, while others are focused solely on methane from upstream natural gas. It all depends on the age-old question of “depth vs. breadth.” However, we are starting to see partnerships forming among general and specific certification programs that leverage the best parts of both.
Q: Do you believe it is possible to attain end-to-end certification across the entire natural gas supply chain?
Fox: Several groups are actively working on this challenge. Focusing on upstream O&G is relatively “easy” because once a facility has been verified, certificates can be generated for each unit of production. These certificates can be sold to anyone within a defined market. In other cases, a producer’s certification means that it can command a premium with specific buyers for the same product that is responsibly produced.
Because midstream and downstream companies aren’t producing a product, it’s unclear to me how or whether they might generate certificates. However, they could be certified for having low emissions as a fraction of throughput. End users may ultimately demand that midstream and downstream companies achieve certain standards to be able to transport and process responsibly sourced gas.
Read Part II of our Q&A with Dr. Thomas Fox where he shares his vision for the future of certified gas here.
Thomas Fox is the President of Highwood Emissions Management, where he works with industry stakeholders, governments, and innovators around the world to help reduce emissions. Since earning his PhD in Smart Emissions Sensing Technologies, Thomas has specialized in evaluating methane measurement technologies, LDAR, and emissions modeling for the oil and gas industry. Thomas publishes the weekly Highwood Emissions Bulletin, which is a favorite information source of many in the industry.
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