Minimizing our impact on the air.
Reducing our air emissions is one of the foremost goals at CONSOL Energy. We’ve recently enacted several new strategies that improve our emission intensity.
In 2015, CONSOL remained committed to our goal of reducing companywide emissions. To better evaluate CONSOL’s overall air quality performance in the midst of current market price volatility, this year’s report has been modified to present year over year direct GHG emissions on a per BTU basis, as opposed to on a per revenue basis as in previous years. Based on the normalization of data, companywide direct GHG emissions have decreased by 47% since first reported in 2012. Also new to the 2015 report is a summary of CONSOL’s scope 3 emissions as defined by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Scope 3 emissions, or those emissions associated with the consumption of all gas and coal sold in a calendar year, have previously been reported to CDP but never before included in the corporate responsibility report. The scope 3 emissions presented below were determined using CDP’s Tier 1 calculation approach, which utilizes readily available company activity data along with default published emission factors.
As a result of increased operational efficiencies, CONSOL’s E&P Operations achieved record production levels while reducing emissions. Overall, emissions of criteria pollutants were reduced by 9% compared to 2014, on a ton per bcf of gas produced basis. In the coming year, CONSOL’s technical, compliance, and regulatory teams will continue to assess changing regulations related to methane control and quantification. It is our goal to develop a program to evaluate these emissions ahead of regulatory requirements.
CONSOL’s coal operation reported a 14% increase in emissions of criteria pollutants compared to 2014, on a ton per million tons of coal produced basis. The increase is expected, as 2015 coal production had decreased compared to prior years. The decrease in production results in the loss of emissions intensity efficiencies, as operation of ventilation systems and vent wells does not decrease proportionately with production. In response to increased particulate matter emissions noted in 2015, particulate matter control technologies for silo ventilation fans are currently being installed and tested.
CONSOL expects that regulatory requirements will expand to include the characterization of emissions from sources not previously evaluated. In anticipation of this change, the 2015 annual emissions calculated for CONE Midstream have been updated to include sources such as fugitive leaks, tanks, blowdown events, and pigging operations, which were not previously evaluated. As a result of these inclusions, CONE’s 2015 emissions intensity increased by approximately 45% in comparison to 2014. Consistent with this effort, CONSOL’s 2016 emissions inventory will be further refined to include a comprehensive source analysis for the gas division.
In addition to improvements in direct emissions from gas and coal production, CONSOL reports an indirect emissions reduction of more than 60% compared to 2014. The overall improvement is attributable to measures such as the consolidation of six office locations and a 30% reduction in the size of CONSOL’s vehicle fleet. Fuel purchased for use by off-road vehicles and equipment was also reduced due to lower operational activity levels. This accounts for the largest categorical reduction compared to 2014, or approximately 65%.
CONSOL reports GHG and air emissions that are relevant to its business operations and/or required by state or federal regulations. There are no applicable regulations limiting emissions of greenhouse gases on a state or national basis, nor are there any industry specific regulations. We continuously search for ways to lower our emissions as part of our continuous improvement process; however we do not set specific goals or targets for emission reduction.
Methane Emissions Abatement Projects
CONSOL partnered with Environmental Commodities Corporation to design, construct, and operate a methane emissions abatement system at the closed Windsor Mine in West Virginia. Abatement of methane from the mine will generate carbon offset credits that will be traded under California’s Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Program. The abatement system will reduce methane emissions by 54 million cubic feet the first year, which is the equivalent of 18,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2e). The system is expected to be operational in 2016 and is planned to continue operating for up to ten years. If feasible, CONSOL will expand the concept of abating methane emissions to our Pennsylvania mining complex.
CONSOL has partnered with Green Holdings to evaluate the feasibility of installing commercial-scale coal mine ventilation air methane (VAM) emission abatement systems on our Pennsylvania coal mining complex. If feasible, the first such VAM abatement system could be capable of reducing methane emissions by 539 million cubic feet per year, or the equivalent of 188,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This project would also be eligible to generate carbon offset credits for trading under the California Cap-and-Trade Program.
CONSOL continues to operate a waste methane-fueled ultra-low-emission 200 kW microturbine generator on our Fallowfield coal bed methane processing plant in Pennsylvania. This system, which has been operating since March 2012, captures methane that would otherwise be emitted and converts it into usable electricity. In CY 2015 the system produced 390,000 kWh of net electricity while consuming 5.4 million cubic feet of methane and, in the process, reducing net global warming potential by the equivalent of 1,900 tonnes of CO2.
CO2 Sequestration Research
CONSOL, in collaboration with other research partners and with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, has been involved in two separate projects to demonstrate that carbon dioxide can be permanently stored in unmineable coal seams and shale formations, while simultaneously stimulating additional methane production. The first project was completed in late 2015. It was situated in Marshall County, West Virginia, and conducted in collaboration with researchers from the National Energy Technology Laboratory and West Virginia University’s National Research Center for Coal and Energy. A total of 5,000 short tons of CO2 were injected into an unmineable area of the Upper Freeport coal seam to demonstrate permanent CO2 storage and the potential for enhanced coal-bed methane (ECBM) production. The second project is ongoing. In it, we are collaborating with the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research at Virginia Tech University and other research partners to inject 20,000 metric tonnes of CO2 into unmineable CONSOL central Appalachian Virginia coal seams to demonstrate permanent CO2 storage and ECBM. The project team also injected 1,200 metric tonnes of CO2 into a CONSOL Tennessee horizontal shale well to stimulate the production of otherwise-immobile hydrocarbon liquids and natural gas, while simultaneously permanently storing the CO2 in the shale.
GHG Emissions (thousands metric tons CO2 (eq))
|Total Direct GHG Emissions (Scope 1)
|Total Indirect GHG Emissions (Scope 2)
|Total Other Indirect GHG Emissions (Scope 3)
|Total Direct GHG (thousands metric tons CO2 eq./TBtu)
||2015 Coal Performance (Short Tons)
||2015 Gas Performance (Short Tons)
||2015 Total Emissions (Short Tons)
|Volatile Organic Compounds