Top U.S. Gas Driller Weighs First Step Toward Net-Zero Emissions

The chief executive of the largest U.S. natural gas producer said the company is considering a path to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, but only from its own operations for now.

EQT Corp. is seeking to cut so-called Scope 1 emissions by replacing equipment that runs on fossil fuels with electric-powered devices, while using real-time sensors and other technologies to cut drilling time and energy use, CEO Toby Rice said in an interview. But extending a net-zero target to emissions from the company’s suppliers and customers would be a “more ambitious goal,” he said.

Delhi, IndiaMost polluted air today, in sensor range 0 6 5 4 3 2 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 5 4 3 2 1 .0 6 5 4 3 2 0 6 5 4 3 2 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 9 8 7 6 5 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 9 8 7 6 5 Parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere -16.​94% Today’s arctic ice area vs. historic average 81% Carbon-free net power in Brazil, most recent data +0.​97° C Sep. 2020 increase in global temperature vs. 1900s average

50,​820 Million metric tons of greenhouse emissions, most recent annual data

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“Expect in the future for us to put out a type of plan that would call for net zero on our Scope 1 emissions,” Rice said.

Such a plan would fall short of the goals announced recently by companies like Occidental Petroleum Corp., which earlier this week became the first major U.S. oil producer to aim for net zero emissions from everything it extracts and sells. Oil and gas companies are under increasing investor pressure to curb the pollution that contributes to climate change.

Pittsburgh-based EQT is still assessing ways to also address emissions from its supply chain and from end-users. Options include teaming up with utilities to replace coal with cleaner gas in power generation, according to Rice.

“As long as there is coal out there being consumed, there’s a tremendous opportunity” for the U.S. to lower emissions by burning gas instead, Rice said.

President-Elect Joe Biden’s plan to get a carbon-free power grid by 2035 is “very ambitious,” Rice said, adding that he didn’t have enough information to comment on its feasibility. In theory, Biden’s proposal would eliminate gas as a power-plant fuel, killing the industry’s biggest source of demand.

“The Biden administration in the short term could be could be very bullish” for gas if the move away coal is accelerated, said Rice, who spoke to members of Biden’s team ahead of last week’s elections.

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