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Sustainability: Managing methane: Has the answer been under our noses all along?

More than 100 participating countries at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) signed the Global Methane Pledge, in which they agreed to take action to reduce methane emissions at least 30% by 2030 vs. 2020 levels. This focus on methane reflects its significant contribution to climate change. Scientists believe that methane has 28–34 times more warming power than carbon dioxide (CO2). Oil and gas companies are among the leading methane emitters and will ultimately play a significant role in making good on the pledge.

Although the related costs and technical implications make it a challenging issue for oil and gas operators to address, reducing methane emissions is high on the industry’s agenda. Leadership discussions at last year’s ADIPEC conference shined a light on the need for the continued development and use of breakthrough technologies to improve sustainability, including reducing both methane and carbon emissions. The following question was posed: What new partnerships, business models and investments are required to create and effectively implement the right technologies?

It is reasonable to conclude that, against the backdrop of rising concerns about the impact of methane on the environment, oil and gas businesses are assessing how they can tap into technological advances to address the new emissions agenda. While the COP26 methane pledge reflected a country-level commitment, in the end, mitigating methane emissions will be driven by the businesses that emit it. How might the use of existing technology aid in reaching their goal?

If the 2030 target is to be achieved, industry players will have to explore ways to accelerate the process, and this entails a balancing act. According to Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology for the United Arab Emirates and Managing Director and Group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC), the global demand for oil and gas following the COVID-19 pandemic has increased to the point where the world will have to invest around $600 B/yr by 2030 to keep up with the anticipated demand. However, society cannot expect to unplug the energy systems of today and to automatically switch to the energy systems of tomorrow. Therefore, to achieve the 2030 target, a pragmatic approach is a must.

According to McKinsey & Company, oil and gas operations account for 20%–25% of anthropogenic methane emissions. If it is the responsibility of operators to take the tangible steps required to reduce emissions, then they must be empowered with good data, which is the foundation of robust decision-making.

The question arises as to whether all operators are making the most of existing digital technology in the associated arenas of monitoring, reliability and maintenance to understand and manage their methane emissions-related performance. According to literature, up to 85% of methane emissions in the oil and gas industry could be mitigated by 2030, using existing technologies.1

There is a case to be made for putting various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together to create a cohesive view. This is a principle already embraced at the authors’ organization. The authors have recognized that subsurface and topside digital technologies can form part and parcel of the same strategy.

Interactive petrophysics and correlation tools can monitor anticipated methane production levels, and, when integrated with geological understanding, these tools will equip the user with the data required to shape and implement mitigation measures for potential corrosion risks and leaks at the wellbore or caprock.

The authors’ company’s proprietary software toola can deliver risk and reliability, while other software toolsb can be used to ensure that inspection and maintenance work is focused, where necessary, on countering potential fugitive emissions from valves and other critical pieces of infrastructure.

Using asset monitoring, reliability and integrity technologies have a secondary effect. They serve to help operators minimize production losses, avert unscheduled downtime and reduce risks. Additionally, these technologies can also help to monitor and mitigate methane emissions, enabling operators to meet their sustainability goals.

Given the urgent need to address the primary causes of anthropogenic input to climate change, information sharing should be imperative (e.g., frontline experiences and lessons learned) between organizations to aid in reaching net-zero targets. This sharing of ideas and knowledge (such as identifying gaps that can be quickly closed by technological advances) can only help operators reach their emissions goals sooner. GP

NOTES

a Lloyd’s Register RiskSpectrum software
b Lloyd’s Register AllAssets software

LITERATURE CITED

  1. Jackson, R. B., et al., “Increasing anthropogenic methane emissions arise equally from agriculture and fossil fuel sources,” Environmental Research Letters, 2020.

OZ RODRIGUEZ is the Head of Product GTM Strategy with Lloyd’s Register software.

CATRIONA PENMAN is a Geologist and an IC Product Manager with Lloyd’s Register software.

 


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FEATURED COLUMNS

Editorial Comment
-Lee Nichols
The gas processing/LNG sector is investing in new technologies to mitigate carbon emissions from both operations and its supply chain.
Industry Focus: Maximizing the performance of your ETRM system
-Teresa Kroh, Brad York
Energy trading and risk management (ETRM) systems are vital for the support of business processes associated with trading energy commodities such as crude oil, refined products, natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs) and electric power, as well as facilitating the movement and delivery of those energy commodities and associated risk management activities.
Sustainability
-Oz Rodriguez, Catriona Penman
More than 100 participating countries at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) signed the Global Methane Pledge, in which they agreed to take action to reduce methane emissions at least 30% by 2030 vs. 2020 levels.


Optimizing Gas Distribution: Accounting for Changeovers, Regulators, and More

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Gas distribution systems are critical to the effective operation of many industrial facilities around the world. Despite the importance of these systems, however, opportunities to improve their performance and cost-effectiveness are often missed or misunderstood. Increasing changeover pressure may seem like a good way to improve system flow, for example, but it often does so at the expense of bottled gas. Adding regulators may help you control supply pressure, but it also adds cost to your system. So, how do you know what the ideal gas distribution setup is for you?

Attend this webinar to:

  • Gain a basic understanding of the fluid dynamics that affect pressure control in gas distribution systems, learning to interpret flow curves and recognize phenomena like lockup, droop, and supply pressure effect (SPE)
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Understand the inherent trade-offs between gas utilization and flow capacity and how to select both the right changeover pressure and automatic changeover panel design for your operations.

May 4, 2021 10:00 AM CDT

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