We opted to start our outreach by focusing on methane emissions because:
- The global oil and gas industry accounts for almost a quarter2 of human-caused methane emissions and these are still rising, despite the rapid progress made by some countries and companies.
- Eliminating methane emissions from oil and gas is one of the quickest ways3 to accelerate progress towards the Paris Agreement objectives.
- Companies can make quick and significant gains once they introduce programmes to actively identify and mitigate key emission sources.
- New technologies are making detection easier and more cost-effective.
AIMING FOR ZERO METHANE EMISSIONS
In March 2022, we launched the Aiming for Zero Methane Emissions Initiative. It is open to the entire industry and based on the idea that companies should treat their methane emissions as seriously as they do safety – aiming for zero and striving to do what is needed to get there.
Signatories to the Initiative strive to reach near zero methane emissions from their operations by 2030, use all reasonable means to avoid methane emissions, report transparently, adopt better monitoring and measurement technologies and support the implementation of sound regulations. Supporters collaborate to help implement the initiative.
Aiming for Zero now has 17 signatories and 42 supporters, all recognizing that virtually all methane emissions from the industry can and should be avoided. Signatories are now using this clear, straightforward ambition to galvanize action within their organizations, whether in the deployment, maintenance and upgrading of physical assets, investment into new technologies, or other areas that might help eliminate methane emissions.
OGCI Annual Progress Report 2022
SATELLITE MONITORING CAMPAIGN
OGCI is now exploring with Aiming for Zero organizations and other stakeholders how to support a broader group of oil and gas operators on methane management, in particular those that have “super-emitting” assets – ones that emit continuous methane plumes of more than half a tonne per hour. Some of these operators are not aware that they have a problem or don’t know how to fix it.
The concept is based on an OGCI pilot programme to identify and mitigate super-emitting assets with high methane releases, starting with Iraq in late 2021 and early 2022. This was a satellite monitoring campaign over six large oilfields in Iraq. Once we identified significant methane plumes, we engaged with the facility operators, provided them with the data and worked with them to help fix leaks, upgrade processes and find ways to use rather than vent natural gas.
We worked in partnership with GHGSat, a Climate Investments’ portfolio company, which operates the satellites and provides readings of the facilities, and with Carbon Limits to help with operator engagement and on-site assessment.
The programme showed significant potential. The two most significant plumes identified accounted for 25% of the total detected emissions. At one large site, operators were able to make improvements in routine procedures to eliminate venting and reduce methane leaks. That cut continuous methane emissions in the range of 5 to 10 tCH4/hour to a level not detectable by satellite over the course of a few months in 2022. At other sites, the emission sources took longer to address, and engagement is continuing to ensure all identified methane plumes are addressed. Based on these results, we have now extended the Campaign to 26 sites in Iraq, Kazakhstan, Algeria and Egypt.
The Campaign team has taken away some key lessons as we consider how to scale methane monitoring and mitigation approaches in the industry:
At New York Climate Week in September 2022, we held a workshop with a broad range of stakeholders to discuss these lessons and explore how we could create a broader programme to address them. This would not only facilitate immediate and substantial reductions in methane emissions, but also build awareness and technical capacity so that operators are able to use the growing availability of affordable satellite data to stop methane emissions.
Other OGCI initiatives to lead the industry
OGCI shows leadership and leverages its influence within the industry through deep engagement with partners and peers. We focus on the necessity and urgency of action to tackle methane emissions, stop routine flaring and minimize the industry’s carbon footprint. We did this in 2022 through increased knowledge sharing and capacity building, working with other industry associations to expand reach:
- Supported Methane Guiding Principles to develop and release an interactive Methane Flaring Toolkit to help oil and gas operators to assess, measure, monitor and reduce methane emissions from flaring.
- Supported Carbon Limits to update a web-based Methane Inventory Systematic Tool to help identify potentially material methane sources at a facility then calculate, report and mitigate those sources.
- Worked with the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers and Ipieca on a tool to help oil and gas companies define the right combination of technologies – satellites, drones, airplanes, sensors – to detect and quantify methane emissions in different regions and facility types. This will be published once finalized.
- Provided metred flaring data from OGCI member company facilities to help validate measurements of methane flare volumes at 20 sites conducted by the Payne Institute for Public Policy as part of the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership, a World Bank project.
- Launched a partnership with the government of Kazakhstan to help it improve the current reporting framework and reduce methane emissions from its oil and gas sector.
- Published a best practice guide with Ipieca on protecting and enhancing natural sinks in areas of oil and gas operation.