Range Resources Corporation's 2020 Corporate Sustainability Report describes its industry leadership and commitment to sustainably producing natural gas for this generation and generations to come while prioritizing environmental protection, safety, its employees, and the communities where it operates. As part of the company's commitment to meeting its sustainability goals, it set an aggressive new goal—to become the first natural gas producer to achieve net-zero direct greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions by 2025.
Range's efforts to reduce emissions have been underway since 2009, using annual engineering reviews to enhance production equipment performance and refine wellsite design. As a result, Range's GHG emissions intensity decreased by 80% between 2011 and 2019. In the past three years in particular, Range has focused on emissions from energy combustion, other vented emissions, and fugitive emissions during its annual design and process change review, as these areas allow for the largest amount of emissions reductions for the associated costs. Between 2017 and 2019, Range reduced its direct carbon dioxide emissions by 44% and methane emissions by 49%.
As Range's CEO, Jeff Ventura, noted in the press release announcing the 2020 Corporate Sustainability Report: "We have made significant progress toward our strategic sustainability goals over the past year." Specific emission reduction initiatives implemented by Range in 2019 include:
- Use of plunger lift technology to remove liquid buildup from the wellbore, eliminating the need for blowdown operations or venting. Range estimates this initiative will result in a 95% reduction in methane emissions by the end of this year, while increasing revenue by about $25 million over a five-year period because of the ability to sell gas that would otherwise have been emitted.
- Use of a zero-emissions flowback turn-on procedure that eliminates the need to vent hydrocarbons to flowback tanks during the flowback phase, when a well produces a mixture of water, sand, condensate, and natural gas. Range estimates use of this procedure will reduce associated emissions by 98% by the end of this year.
- Use of an electric motor-driven vapor-recovery unit compressor to reduce direct GHG emissions by replacing natural gas-fired engines with electric motors.
- Use of a vapor recovery tower that reduces storage tank and condensate loading emissions.
- Participation in the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Natural Gas Star Program. As part of that program, Range will begin reporting its emission reduction efforts this year.
Range's emission reduction initiatives in 2020 and beyond include:
- Partnership with U.S. Well Services for an electric frac fleet powered entirely by natural gas, with its own turbine generators on the wellsite. Third-party studies indicate this technology will reduce associated emissions by 99% with the added benefits of significantly decreased sound pollution and operational costs savings upwards of 90% of traditional fuel costs.
- Increased frequency of leak detection and remediation surveys performed by environmental compliance staff.
- Use of high efficiency burners on heated flash separators and dehydration reboilers.
- Use of electric pumps on glycol dehydrators to reduce emissions that would otherwise be flared.
- Exploring the use of a carbon offset strategy focusing on forest carbon projects, including (i) planting trees on and developing forest management plans for Range-owned lands in Pennsylvania; and (ii) a possible partnership with a conservation group to purchase, conserve, and manage additional forested lands.
- Possible use of ground-level air monitoring, tracer surveys, aerial surveys, and/or other advanced technologies to improve the accuracy of emissions monitoring.
Range's 2020 Corporate Sustainability Report states a commitment to long-term, sustainable natural gas production while continuously reducing emissions, including those commonly associated with climate change. Range plans to continue its strategy development on this front, analyzing long-term trends in energy markets and using the publicly available scenarios produced by the International Energy Agency's 2019 World Energy Outlook. Range sees significant opportunities for the role of and an increased demand for natural gas in the transition to a low-carbon economy and hopes to yield significant benefits in its relationships with its employees, communities, and investors by being an industry leader on important environmental, social, and governance metrics.