Methane emissions detection and quantification

IOGP and our Members recognize that reducing methane emissions from our industry is a critical step in decarbonizing energy production.  Finding the big leaks fast will address the majority of emissions problems faster. To control methane emissions, you must locate their sources and measure their relative volume. It’s easier to detect sources of methane than to measure their emissions.

Detection and measurement

To varying degrees, companies might need both detection and measurement to ensure accountability for reductions.  Current industry experience is that methane detection, measurement, and quantification approaches will vary based on the type of asset (onshore dispersed, onshore centralized, offshore) and environmental factors (i.e. regions with cloud cover may not be suitable for satellite monitoring).

In recent years, dozens of new technologies to firstly detect and then quantify methane emissions have emerged and are improving all the time, with current technology offering several alternatives to improve understanding of emissions, identify opportunities for action, track emissions reduction progress, and take credit for strong performance.

However, these technologies differ significantly in form, function, and performance. Cameras and other sensors for optical gas imaging may be mounted on satellites, manned and unmanned aircraft, aquatic craft, terrestrial vehicles, and fixed locations.

No silver bullet

But there is no “silver bullet” – rather a particular niche for each solution that depends on the measurement challenge at hand. This diversity of solutions presents the industry with countless options for optimizing their measurement strategy. However, many industry players are not taking advantage of the right technologies in the correct ways, because there exists no standard approach or practice for technology selection, and so IOGP in conjunction with OGCI and Ipieca has developed the Recommended Practice for methane emissions detection and quantification technologies – upstream.

This Recommended Practice provides the user with a framework on how to implement combinations of measurement, detection, and quantification technologies at onshore and offshore assets to facilitate improved methane management and emissions reporting.

Objectives include a summary and high grading of available technologies and approaches for different types of assets and environmental factors that include:

  • Detection technologies
    Approaches to identify sources of methane at assets that may or may not provide information on the quantity of methane emitted;
  • Source level measurement
    Approaches to quantify source level emissions across common sources in the upstream oil and gas industry, including flaring, venting, fugitives, and combustion equipment; and,
  • Site-level quantification technologies
    Approaches to measure site or asset level emissions that may or may not identify the sources of methane emissions on site

Combining three approaches

Our Members have strategies for methane emissions management that rely to different extents on source-level measurement, detection, and site-level quantification.  This recommended practice is written in such a way that combinations of all three approaches are available as choices to operators, provided there is sufficient technical rigor to making such decisions, and is not intended to promote the use of any individual external initiative.

The practices will include information on how approaches may vary between onshore and offshore environments, address specific technology limitations, and provide information to help an operator characterize measurement uncertainty.  It is not simply a compendium of available or deployed technologies but includes a high grading of technology types for specific use cases to provide a recommended approach to operators wanting to develop their methane monitoring and/or measurement capabilities.

As methane detection and quantification is a rapidly evolving field with new technologies being developed and existing technologies improving, so this document and associated technology datasheets and filtering tool will be periodically updated to ensure that it maintains contemporary approaches.

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