Methane Guiding Principles: the momentum continues

Founded in 2017 as a voluntary, international multi-stakeholder partnership between industry and non-industry organisations, Methane Guiding Principles (MGP) is working to reduce methane emissions along the entire natural gas value chain.  In recent months, MGP has appointed its first programme manager, added two new best practice guides to its existing suite, and run a series of virtual outreach courses.  The five Methane Guiding Principles focus on priority areas for action.

Many of IOGP’s member companies are among MGP’s 23 signatories and the Association itself became one of 16 supporting organisations in 2018.  Others include EDF, IEA, IGU, IPIECA and OGCI.

MGP’s new programme manager is Rebecca Middleton.  Rebecca manages delivery of MGP’s annual workplan and oversees the administration of activities that support the partnership’s five Guiding Principles. Rebecca has a background in environmental management and over 25 years of experience in the upstream oil and gas industry.

Commenting on her current role, Rebecca says her ambition is “to act as a facilitator to help signatories and supporting organisations achieve real progress against the partnership’s five principles. Although I’ve only been in the job since the beginning of August, I’m really excited about our plans for 2021, which we’re finalising now.”

New best practices

These 2021 plans include achieving wider exposure for – and implementation of – MGP’s ten best practice guides, Rebecca says.  One of the latest guides to be developed addresses methane emissions identification, detection measurement and quantification – steps regarded as crucial in methane reduction.

Commenting on this best practice, one of the authors, Professor David Allen, University of Texas, says “Methods for methane emission detection and quantification continue to rapidly evolve.  With the addition of the latest best practice guide, operators have a resource describing methane emission identification, detection, measurement and quantification methods and approaches that have been successful, as they design programs for their own facilities.”

The other new MGP best practice focuses on mid- and downstream operations, covering methane emissions in the natural gas supply chain that arise from venting, fugitive emissions, and incomplete combustion – also known as ‘methane slip’.

According to Matt Harrison, Managing Principal, SLR International and one of the authors of the MGP best practices, this guidance meets a genuine need.  “As the industry faces a global challenge, not just a local challenge, to incorporate practices that reduce methane emissions, these best practice documents should help managers of operations anywhere in the world make consistent emissions management decisions.”

In addition to being available in English, the best practices can now be downloaded in Mandarin.  Versions in Russian, Arabic, French and Spanish are due to follow soon.

Global outreach 

MGP’s global outreach programme is also up and running, with two courses.  One is geared towards industry executives and the other is a masterclass.

As Rebecca describes them, “both are designed to improve awareness and know-how on managing methane emissions.”  Experienced instructors are drawn from the Sustainable Gas Institute, Imperial College London.

The executive course is aimed at senior personnel with overall responsibility for their companies’ gas business and accountability for emissions reductions across global operations.

The masterclass targets managers whose responsibilities include decision-making on planning, mitigating, measuring, and reporting methane emissions

Both courses were designed to be delivered in a variety of ways:  face-to-face, online, or pre-recorded with digital access.

Details about both courses can be found on: https://methaneguidingprinciples.org/courses/

IOGP’s contribution to the MGPs

As far as IOGP is concerned, all of the MGP best practices and the outreach courses are worth promoting, says Wendy Brown, the Association’s Environment Director.  “We regularly promote MGP material in meetings of the Environment Committee and other relevant IOGP groups, as well as in external conferences to enhance outreach.  We see this as part of our obligation as a supporting organisation as well as a benefit to our member companies.  And if they choose to become MGP signatories themselves, so much the better.”

Each MGP signatory and supporting Organisation is committed to support at least one project annually in-kind and/or financially. Such support is publicly reported.

IOGP has recently joined forces with OGCI and IPIECA to develop industry recommended practices for deploying methane emission detection and quantification technologies. This initiative, led by an IOGP task force of industry experts, will build on the high level MGP IDMQ best practice to provide guidance on optimum methods and combinations of methods for different facility types and situations, and how they should be most effectively deployed. “We envisage that this could also be used eventually to be put forward to become an industry standard,” Wendy says.

Earlier this year, IOGP, together with GIE and Marcogaz, also published the first common industry guidelines to help companies set methane emission reduction targets. For more information, visit the guidelines page.

Ben Ratner, Senior Director at the Environmental Defense Fund, summarises the importance of such work: “It’s time for industry to pick up the pace on reducing methane emissions as task number one in decarbonization. Industry must set explicit methane emission reduction targets, and help the European Union ensure that all natural gas verifiably adheres to minimum emission performance standards”.

For more information on MGP in general, visit https://methaneguidingprinciples.org/

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