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DOE Announces $30 Million for Technologies that Create Valuable Products from Otherwise Wasted Natural Gas While Reducing Methane Emissions from Flaring




September 7, 2023 - The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) today announced up to $30 million for the development of advanced technologies to reduce or eliminate the need for natural gas flaring at oil production sites, a known source of methane emissions, by converting unused and otherwise wasted natural gas produced at those operations into value-added products such as sustainable chemicals and fuels. After carbon dioxide, methane is the second most abundant greenhouse gas warming our planet, accounting for 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This funding opportunity supports President Biden’s U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan and the Administration’s pledge that the United States will work with global partners to reduce the world’s methane emissions 30% from 2020 levels by 2030, while simultaneously cutting consumer costs, protecting workers and communities, growing jobs, and promoting U.S. technology innovation. 

“Methane emissions continue to rise globally, and oil and natural gas operations represent the largest source of methane emissions across the energy sector,” said Brad Crabtree, Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. “Projects awarded through today’s funding opportunity will not only develop innovative approaches that improve oil and gas production efficiency, but also create marketable products while reducing methane emissions across the country to help address climate change.”

The United States relies heavily on domestic natural gas for residential, commercial, and industrial energy use. Yet each year billions of cubic feet of natural gas are wasted through flaring and venting, which is the burning of underutilized natural gas at an oil production site using a dedicated flare to ignite the methane and other components in the gas. Methane emissions are caused by incomplete burning of natural gas in flares, which are particularly prevalent in onshore oil production, where the associated gas produced is often flared due to the lack of available natural gas transportation via local pipeline.

FECM is seeking projects under this funding opportunity announcement (FOA) that include the use of innovative technologies for capturing associated gas at the well site to reduce or eliminate the need for flaring and venting, as well as novel methods for converting the captured natural gas into value-added products, essentially creating a new product stream from a waste stream. The FOA seeks cost-shared research proposals for pilot-scale field deployment and validation of efficient, cost-effective options that will then be ready for pre-commercial demonstration in real world applications.

FOA applicants must carefully address the societal considerations and impacts of their proposed projects, emphasizing active engagement with communities. Applications must explain how projects are expected to deliver economic and environmental benefits and mitigate impacts; conduct community and stakeholder engagement; incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and promote workforce development and quality jobs. Projects selected under this opportunity will be required to develop and implement strategies to ensure strong community and worker benefits, and report on such activities and outcomes.

Read more details about this FOA here. All questions must be submitted through FedConnect; register here for an account. Visit our website to find resources on how to include equity and conduct community engagement in project plans.

FECM minimizes environmental and climate impacts of fossil fuels and industrial processes while working to achieve net-zero emissions across our economy. Priority areas of technology work include carbon capture, carbon conversion, carbon dioxide removal, carbon dioxide transport and storage, hydrogen production with carbon management, methane emissions reduction, and critical minerals production. To learn more, visit the FECM websitesign up for FECM news announcements, and visit the?NETL website.