Hilcorp tops list for methane emissions, report says

Permafrost-derived methane bubbles are trapped in the ice on a pond near Fairbanks, Alaska. (Katey Walter Anthony/University of Alaska Fairbanks)

A new report says Hilcorp Energy emits far more methane into the atmosphere than any other oil and gas producer in the United States.

Texas-based Hilcorp is Alaska’s second-largest oil producer. Nationally, it produces far less energy than Exxon Mobil, but Hilcorp emits nearly 50% more methane pollution, according to a report produced by consulting firm M.J. Bradley & Associates for two non-profits.

Methane is the primary ingredient in natural gas. It is emitted from cracked equipment, bad seals and when liquids are transferred, among other ways.

Methane is also a powerful contributor to global warming. It’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

The report shows little methane escaping from Arctic Alaska, where most of the state’s oil production is located. Gas there is re-injected into wells.

A leaking Cook Inlet pipeline contributed to Hilcorp’s high methane escapement, but Hilcorp’s larger methane problems are in the Lower 48, according to the public data sources M.J. Bradley relied on.

A Hilcorp spokesman said by email that the report’s conclusions are meant to advance the agenda of the groups that sponsored it, the Clean Air Task Force and another climate advocacy organization called Ceres.

The spokesman said Hilcorp buys aging assets and improves them but he said the emissions data does not give the company full credit for the improvements. He also said that “nearly all (of) Hilcorp Alaska’s facilities have decreased emissions since coming under our ownership.”

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