Industry Tackles Methane Emissions Intensity At-Source: OGCI Expands Monitoring Campaign In Emerging Economies

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), which counts the world’s largest oil and gas companies among its membership, plans to extend its pioneering methane monitoring campaign to seven or eight new countries, according to reporting in the Financial Times Monday morning.

This announcement is particularly noteworthy as according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest methane tracker, emerging economies Turkmenistan, Venezuela, Algeria, and Iran recorded the highest levels of methane emissions intensities. On this finding, the IEA report concluded:

“High emissions intensities are not inevitable; they can be addressed cost-effectively through a combination of high operational standards, policy action and technology deployment. On all these fronts, best practices are well established.” (emphasis added)

One such best-practice tool to combat high emissions intensities is the OGCI’s Satellite Monitoring Campaign (SMC). The program uses satellite technology to identify significant methane plumes, engage with facility operators, provide data, and work with operators to help fix leaks, upgrade processes and find ways to use – rather than vent – natural gas. The success of the program is a testament to the benefits of working alongside industry to collectively reduce emissions.

Since 2017, OGCI’s member companies have collectively halved upstream methane emissions and cut flaring by 45 percent at their own operations through activities including reducing leaks and venting, and repairing and upgrading key infrastructure. Now, the initiative and its members are looking to expand efforts to tackle emissions in emerging economies.

For example, OGCI’s 2022-2023 satellite detection system campaign over Algeria and Kazakhstan helped local operators eliminate methane plumes with a combined average rate of 3,200 kilograms an hour, or the estimated equivalent of around 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the course of one year.

Bjørn Otto Sverdrup, OGCI Executive Committee Chair, commented:

“Eliminating methane emissions from oil and gas operations around the world is one of the most impactful climate actions to help support and advance the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. This latest stage of OGCI’s satellite monitoring campaign demonstrates how a systematic effort to raise awareness, deploy new technologies and engagement can support local operators, including national oil companies and joint-venture partners, in their efforts to remove methane emissions at scale.” (emphasis added)

And industry agrees. Chevron Lower Carbon Advisor, Blair Blackwell, explained:

“OGCI’s SMC is a model that works to help accelerate action on methane emissions. In Kazakhstan we’ve seen that the campaign has facilitated best practice sharing and increased engagement with local operators – building capabilities and sharing expertise and solutions more broadly throughout the industry to enable reductions of methane emissions.”

Andrew Baxter, an analyst at the Environmental Defense Fund, similarly said the OGCI initiative is important because it combines satellite detection with peer-to-peer engagement and technical and financial support to tackle emissions.

Bottom line: Despite the immense progress made by industry on methane emissions reduction in the past few years, methane emissions intensities remain high in emerging economies. The expansion of the successful OGCI satellite monitoring campaign is a positive step to bringing emerging markets in-line with industry best practice to enable the continued production of oil and gas in the most responsible way possible.




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