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Satellite Monitoring Campaign

OGCI is supporting a broader group of oil and gas operators on methane management, in particular those that have assets that emit continuous methane plumes of more than half a tonne per hour.

Some of these operators are not aware they have a problem or don’t know how to fix it.

An OGCI pilot programme successfully used satellite technology at six large oilfields in Iraq to identify methane emissions and directly engaged with local operators to help address identified methane plumes.

The successful pilot, known as the Satellite Monitoring Campaign (SMC), has been expanded to additional sites in Iraq as well as Kazakhstan, Algeria and Egypt.

The SMC started with Iraq in late 2021 and early 2022. 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 tonnes of methane per 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 SMC to 26 sites in Iraq, Kazakhstan, Algeria and Egypt.

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.

Lessons learned

The team working on the SMC has taken away some key lessons as we consider how to scale methane monitoring and mitigation approaches in the industry:

  • Detection may not be enough. While providing detailed information about where leaks are occurring can drive mitigation, integrated technical, financial and on-the-ground support will, in some cases, be needed to stop emissions.
  • Long-term relationship building is needed with site operators to build trust. This takes local expertise and is not a fast process.
  • Care is needed with reporting. We have chosen to aggregate and anonymize data to focus our efforts on working collaboratively with operators with detected emissions versus ‘naming and shaming’. We believe that a collaborative approach will ultimately be more effective in mitigating emissions.
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Tackling methane emissions

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