How We Produce
CNX shale gas comes primarily from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations which underlie much of Appalachia. Shale gas is a form of natural gas (mostly methane) found underground in shale rock. Shale is a fine-grained sedimentary rock with small spaces containing gas that are relatively unconnected to each other—meaning that gas does not flow easily through shale.
To get to the gas, crews drill deep, vertical holes into the shale rock, followed by horizontal drilling to access more of the gas. Hydraulic stimulation is introduced utilizing powerful pumps to send water, sand and chemicals down the hole to break shale rock open and extract gas molecules.
Once the gas is flowing to the surface, gas and liquids are separated in a special vessel if needed. The gas is then sent to a processing plant before the gas is transported away via pipelines for commercial use.
Networks of gathering pipelines, compressor stations, and processing equipment are used to transport raw natural gas from the field to retail and utility markets. Produced natural gas is gathered, separated, and often, processed before it is used. Gathering pipeline systems collect gas from multiple wells to a central point— typically a gathering and boosting station, a processing plant, or a connection to a larger mainline transmission pipeline or shipping point. Gathering and boosting stations, also known as compressor stations help maximize well production and keep gas moving down the pipeline. This gas isn’t always ready to be utilized by consumers and can be treated and processed at processing facilities before it is retail “pipeline quality” gas. For gas to be “pipeline quality” water is removed by dehydration units, and other impurities like carbon dioxide and oxygen are removed at processing facilities. Natural gas liquids (NGLs) are separated out of the gas stream and broken down by a process known as fractionation before sale. The pipeline quality natural gas is then moved by transmission lines (interstate pipeline systems) which ultimately carry the gas to the final consumer, or local distribution company, which fuels your home.
CNX utilizes a similar infrastructure concept to manage water transportation to maximize our water reuse and recycling potential. Water pipelines are installed in tandem with the gas gathering pipelines to gather water from producing natural gas wells which, in turn, deliver the water to central points for storage and reuse. These co-located pipelines reduce our environmental footprint by requiring only one right of way. Boosting stations along the water pipeline route keeps water moving down the pipeline and allows water to be transported and stored at strategically placed centralized storage facilities within our operational footprint. This water management system significantly reduces the demand on freshwater, and significantly reduces the need for trucks to transport the water, which eliminates safety and spill risks, emissions, and traffic nuisances on public roadways.
Coal Mine Methane (CMM) is a residual waste, which is necessarily released from coal mines for safety purposes and keeps the underground conditions below explosive limits. Coal mines are responsible for 8% of US Methane emissions (per EPA, in 2019). No regulatory requirements, incentives, or penalties exist in the US for the abatement of coal mine methane emissions, which are a potent greenhouse gas. Methane emissions from underground coal mines continue after mines are closed and abandoned and can produce significant emissions for decades. The overwhelming majority of coal mines ventilate methane to the atmosphere, with only 3 of the 550 active mines in the US injecting methane into pipelines for beneficial use as of 2022. Less than 10% of the highly gaseous mines in the US make any effort to capture and destruct these waste methane emissions through flares.
Rather than releasing methane to the atmosphere, recent landfill and agricultural projects are capturing this residual waste, processing it and delivering it to market as renewable natural gas (RNG). CNX’s solution for CMM follows the same principles of residual waste methane capture, processing, compression, and transportation of methane to market. The EPA has developed a federal Coalbed Methane Outreach Program, working collaboratively with the industry to “promote the profitable recovery, utilization, and mitigation of CMM” (https://www.epa.gov/cmop/about-coal-mine-methane). CMM has been recognized by EPA as a clean-burning fuel. Because CMM is released through mining activities, the recovery and use of CMM is considered emissions avoidance. CMM projects—including natural gas pipeline sales—have been included in the major international carbon trading programs for over 15 years, such as the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism and Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard.For more information visit
CMM is a targeted ultra-low carbon intensity energy source eligible to create alternative energy credits when used for electrical power generation in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Colorado, and Utah. Additionally, the Climate Action Reserve, California Air Resource Board (“CARB”), and American Carbon Registry each have CMM protocols for CMM projects which include peer-reviewed, rigorous monitoring and quantification procedures that allow for a robust expression of CMM’s methane avoidance benefits.
The coal producing regions—where workers are challenged disproportionately by the energy transition— could lead our country in methane emissions reductions, while also driving economic value in their communities. Local governments will benefit from new tax revenue and income thanks to the utilization of low carbon attributes of CMM, which can be exported to various states, countries, and businesses striving to meet emissions reductions goals. A recent study by the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, 2017 https://cngvc.org/ study-rng-can-create-130000-jobs-14-billion-economicbenefits- california/, showed that one state’s investment in renewable natural gas could lead to the creation of ~130,000 jobs and up to $14 billion of added economic value. CNX alone is proposing to invest millions of dollars each year into new CMM capture facilities.
For more information visit http://www.wastegascapture.com/