Methane is the primary element of natural gas. It is also a potential Greenhouse Gas whose warming effect is much stronger than that of CO2 despite a significantly shorter lifespan in the atmosphere.
There are many sources of methane emissions around the globe, both natural and manmade. Agriculture, energy and waste are the sectors responsible for most manmade methane emissions.
According to the International Energy Agency, the oil & gas sector accounts for around 13% of all methane emissions (both manmade and natural).
The European Green Deal will include a Strategy to address methane emissions in the energy sector – oil, gas and coal.
Methane releases into the atmosphere can occur along the oil & gas value chain for various reasons.
Flaring and/or venting occurs when associated gas is intentionally released or flared (burned) into the atmosphere for operational safety or economic reasons. By flaring the gas, nearly all of the methane is burned, and almost only CO2 is released into the atmosphere in the process.
Fugitive methane emissions occur when methane unintentionally leaks from oil & gas value chain assets – e.g. pneumatic equipment, pipelines, wells, etc.
The oil and gas industry is actively working to reduce methane emissions related to its activities to reduce the environmental footprint of its activities but also of the oil & gas that is marketed and sold to consumers.
The oil and gas industry has launched and/or participates in a number of initiatives and actions to reduce methane emission.
The Oil & Gas Climate Initiative’s methane intensity reduction target, which already led to a 9% methane emission drop in 2018 alone.
The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership which aims to reach 0 routine flaring by 2030.
The Methane Guiding Principles of which IOGP is an associate signatory – a set of principles focusing on areas of action to reduce methane emissions, developed by a coalition of industry, international institutions, non-governmental organisations and academics. Signatories commit to
1. monitor & reduce emissions, reduce venting, support LDAR tech development
2. involve partners from the whole value chain – our suppliers included
3. improve data collection and quantification of emissions
4. call for policy that incentivises early action, work with NGOs and institutions
5. publish emission data, methodologies, track progress and list challenges + standardize external reporting