OGCI accelerates action to tackle global oil and gas methane emissions

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) announced today at COP28 that it has stepped up activities on methane detection and flaring to help more companies reduce methane emissions from their oil and gas operations – one of the best short-term opportunities for the industry to advance the Paris Agreement ambitions.

OGCI’s action on methane emissions has focused on two critical foundations: detection and measurement, and tackling flaring – one of the biggest sources of the greenhouse gas from oil and gas.

This year, OGCI expanded its flagship Satellite Monitoring Campaign (SMC) to include more countries and assets. This was complemented by work with the World Bank’s Global Flaring and Methane Reduction Partnership (GFMR) and US-based Payne Institute for Public Policy to launch a more accessible platform on global gas flaring data.

The SMC and the platform on global gas flaring data aim to help companies reduce their methane emissions and greenhouse gas flaring by providing actionable information. It also supports the ambitions of COP28’s Oil & Gas Decarbonization Charter to virtually eliminate methane emissions and routine flaring by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions from oil and gas operations by 2050.

Methane emissions from venting, fugitives and flaring comprise around 2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year (CO2e) – almost half the oil and gas industry’s total Scope 1 and 2 emissions, according to the International Energy Agency.

While methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2), it can be tackled more quickly and cost effectively than CO2. Methane is also shorter lived, so reductions have a faster impact on the climate.

Bjørn Otto Sverdrup, OGCI Executive Committee chair said: “The oil and gas industry has a great opportunity to make a positive contribution to global climate goals by significantly reducing methane emissions from operations and these two OGCI activities will share what we’ve learned so far to help the wider industry decarbonise.”

Since 2017, OGCI’s member companies have collectively halved their absolute upstream methane emissions and cut flaring by 45%. They have also backed the development and implementation of innovative technologies that find and stop methane leaks.

Now in its third year, OGCI’s SMC collects high-resolution data on large-magnitude methane plumes and uses confidential engagement with local operators to help them identify and address the sources of the emissions.

Work now underway with satellite greenhouse gas monitoring company GHGSat more than doubles the number of assets and countries involved in the SMC. Based on initial estimates, this third phase has the potential to eliminate millions of tonnes of CO2e a year.

OGCI’s current campaign builds on a successful pilot at six oil fields in Iraq in 2021 and an extension to over 20 oil and gas assets in Iraq, Kazakhstan, Algeria and Egypt in 2022. Results from the second phase of the campaign in Kazakhstan, Algeria, and Egypt are expected next year.

At the pilot project in Iraq, the campaign helped eliminate emissions at one large site by identifying an opportunity to reroute the gas to another facility where it now powers operations. Abatement work is underway at three other sites where emissions were detected. Methane emissions weren’t detected at the remaining two sites.

The expansion of the SMC is complemented by OGCI’s work with the World Bank and Colorado School of Mines Payne Institute to further improve the transparency and accessibility of data on flaring with a new consolidated platform designed to help oil and gas companies more easily locate and reduce the biggest emissions from flared natural gas at their operations.

The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report estimated that in 2022 gas flaring released 42 million tonnes of CO2e in the form of methane. Flaring volumes are one of the biggest sources of methane emissions and reducing this is expected to play an important role in slowing global warming and meeting climate goals.

Payne Institute Director Morgan Bazilian said: “We are thrilled to continue to collaborate with OGCI and the World Bank on providing the best satellite-derived flaring data in the world. The insights from this work helps inform decision makers globally, including at COP28 where methane and flaring will take centre stage.”

The World Bank’s GFMR manager Zubin Bamji said: “Taking quick and decisive action on methane emissions could avoid as much as 0.1 degrees Celsius of warming by mid-century—equivalent to zeroing out the emissions of every car and truck in the world. With GFMR we will support countries with the least capacity and resources to address methane emissions, while also leveraging billions of dollars of private sector finance.”


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