While U.S. goals to achieve net zero by 2050 are often aspirational, the public hopes they are achievable. Even though technology and clear definitions are still evolving, climate action is possible today. Depending on the industry, these net-zero targets traditionally center around reaching net-zero production, operations, and sales; investing in new energies; and/or driving toward a circular economy. With a lot of human and financial capital, it will take decades to achieve most of these objectives. But one of these ambitious goals is already in progress and is addressable now.
Why is methane a focus for continuous monitoring?
Science tells us that methane is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide. To meet Paris Agreement goals, we must reduce our methane emissions by approximately 50%. ESG and Sustainability proposals, the Paris agreement, and WEF initiatives focus mainly on carbon dioxide because it’s a consumer gas, meaning that humans can make choices that reduce these emissions by altering our activity. Methane emissions result from industrial activities through leaks, venting, and/or flaring. A comprehensive net-zero methodology addresses both.
The world’s second-largest oil producer, Chevron, started its journey to 2050 net-zero aspiration years ago. While many of their goals are future-forward, they are already on a path to reducing methane and are advancing a lower carbon future. Chevron is working with partners to reduce methane emissions and increase transparency about how, when, and where they are lowering emissions in their operations. For this effort, Chevron tapped Project Canary and its TrustWell asset-level environmental risk assessment program to review and analyze individual wells and facilities’ environmental and social performance. They continue to work towards their goal of executing projects to achieve a methane target of 2 kilograms CO2 equivalent per barrel by 2028 – more than a 50% reduction from its 2016 baseline. We are seeing the industry rapidly moving in this direction.
Additionally, when factoring in the financial implications and the social and environmental impacts, the risk of doing nothing, or not doing enough, is significant. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will impose a penalty of $900 per metric ton of methane beginning in 2024 and escalating to $1,500 in two years.
Where do the most methane emissions occur?
There are many sources of fugitive emissions, including leaks, either mechanical or operational process-related, workovers, flare failures, etc. For operators, the largest emission sources are those related to operational or maintenance events, like liquids unloading or blowdowns. These are normal activities that often result in emissions and require more complex solutions to eliminate. Also, regular equipment maintenance problems like valve and seal failures occur from the natural degradation of products over time. Predicting when a seal will fail or when a valve will pivot to its open position can be challenging. Sitewide continuous emissions monitoring (CEM) can identify these scenarios very quickly for swift resolution, while also quantifying the volume of emissions to align emissions estimates closer with actuals.
What’s needed to solve this problem?
We need accurate real-time measurement of methane emissions. The IEA supposes that methane leaks from the oil & gas industry are 70% higher than government estimates. Actual methane intensity could be ten times higher than the estimates.
To quickly and strategically fix leaks and prove performance and improvements over time, there must be a combination of continuous ground-based sensors with aerial footage and advanced analytics to achieve 100% monitoring. Then, using ML-based regression and Gaussian plume models to localize and quantify total site emissions will provide the operational insights necessary to be successful.
How Project Canary sees the future of continuous monitoring.
We believe you can’t improve what you don’t measure. Today, our Canary X/ monitors, software and analytics measure, visualize, and quantify methane. We are also evolving our innovative platform to aggregate and analyze data from other sensors, including aerial devices. Our customers now have more sensor options to choose from to help impact climate change positively, while future-proofing their methane detection and quantification strategies.
Our Aeris by Project Canary line of infrared spectrum monitors can measure methane and ethane to differentiate between biogenic and thermogenic methane in real time, ethylene oxide, formaldehyde, and numerous other hazardous air sources pollutants. These same monitors, coupled with Project Canary’s models and analytics, can tune carbon dioxide measurements down to 2 parts per trillion (PPT).
In the new Canary portal, multiple sensor data sources can be reconciled, giving operators more choices about sensor types and deployment. A comprehensive set of technologies (both hardware and software) will be needed to make a lasting impact on the world around us.
How do I get started today?
It is the methane moment, and it begins with accurate, high-fidelity continuous monitoring and measurements with Project Canary.