Energy | Ecotrope

Can a natural gas pipeline be carbon neutral?

Ecotrope | July 28, 2011 4:03 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:36 p.m.

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A map of the 675-mile Ruby Pipeline that started sending gas from Wyoming to Oregon today. How do you make a natural gas pipeline carbon neutral?

A map of the 675-mile Ruby Pipeline that started sending gas from Wyoming to Oregon today. How do you make a natural gas pipeline carbon neutral?

“Ruby is across the finish line, completing more than three-and-a-half years of stakeholder outreach and construction,” said Jim Cleary, president of El Paso’s Western Pipelines.

This is the giant, 675-mile, 42-inch-wide pipeline that stretches from Opal, Wyo., to Malin, carrying what likely will include a mix of the controversial “fracked” gas from shale in the Rockies. El Paso says this project is the first interstate pipeline in the U.S. to mitigate its greenhouse gas impacts. The goal is 100 percent carbon neutrality for the pipeline’s construction and operation.

There’s something curious to me about the idea of making a natural gas pipeline 100 percent carbon neutral. It’s carrying massive amounts of fossil fuel from wells to places where it will release carbon dioxide when it is burned. But I don’t think they’re considering the end use of that fuel in the calculation (I think I’ll check on that. Stay tuned). Here’s how the company plans to reach carbon neutrality:

  • Buying emissions credits to offset plant and facility emissions
  • Controlling “fugitive”methane that escapes from the pipe
  • Buying carbon offsets from reforestation and carbon sequestration projects
  • Paying for renewable energy to power gas compression stations
  • Reducing emissions from the pipe by reducing friction inside the line
  • Making field offices certified green buildings

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