The Role of Digital Innovation in Making Methane Commitments Stick

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Methane is responsible for around 30% of the rise of global temperatures, which is driving the current climate change. Human activities, specifically in oil and gas operations, landfills, and livestock enteric fermentation, are among the largest sources of greenhouse gas. Experts reveal cutting back on methane emissions is one of the most effective ways to reduce near-term global warming and keep it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. In November 2021, the United States and European Union led the other 100 countries responsible for over 50% of global emissions in signing the Global Methane Pledge to cut 30% of emissions by 2030. Unfortunately, a low focus on innovation in methane emission management threatens to underscore this commitment. This blog discusses how innovation will help methane commitments stick.

Current Methane Policies You Should Know

The U.S. is taking bold steps to follow through on its international commitments to cut methane emissions. The following are some of the latest methane policies introduced by the Biden administration as part of the 2021 U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan:
  • A $1.15 billion grant to help states clean up abandoned oil and gas wells considered major sources of methane emissions in the US.
  • Establishment of Methane Reduction Infrastructure Initiative to provide technical assistance to federal agencies, states, and tribes engaged in the abandoned well clean-up efforts.
  • New enforcement of the PIPES Act of 2020 requires the oil and gas industry, as well as pipeline operators, to take steps to reduce methane leaks.
  • A new interagency working group to spearhead the measurement, monitoring, and reporting of methane emissions and their removal.

Using Technology to Monitor, Measure, and Report Methane Leaks

Studies reveal methane emissions have risen by about 25% in the last two decades. The current trajectory jeopardizes the 2% annual decline target required to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius. A New McKinsey report reveals five industries, including agriculture, oil and gas, coal mining, wastewater management, and solid waste management, can reduce global annual methane emissions by 20% by 2030. This reduction can only be possible with the massive adoption of technologies that provide effective abatement solutions. The following are some of the innovations that can help industries and countries stay on their commitments to reduce their methane emissions.

Using Technology to Track Down Methane Leaks

Leaks from faulty oil and gas equipment are one of the biggest sources of methane in the energy industry. An effective way to reduce methane emissions is to stop industries from releasing it in the first place. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge to stopping these emissions starts with identifying the fugitive sources. Today, innovative detection devices, including microwave-sized satellites and sensor-equipped drones, are among the growing list of innovations that help companies detect and measure methane leaks and deliver a higher level of climate transparency. The following is a brief summary of available technologies to help the oil and gas industry curb its emissions:
  • The Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite: For a long time, challenges in standard satellite capabilities, such as when clouds are present or when facilities are offshore, prevented the effective detection of large methane plumes. In 2017, the European Space Agency launched the Sentinel-5 Precursor with capabilities to overcome these gaps. The satellite has a 1600 field or view and orbits the Earth 16 times a day to detect and measure atmospheric concentrations of methane and other gases in bad weather conditions. The satellite then sends data to the EPA for investigation and remedial actions.
  • MethaneSat: Launched in October 2022, MethaneSat provides a leak rate from global oil and gas production that enables investors and government agencies to track and compare emissions from multiple sources over time. The device analyzes data and presents it to the companies in an almost real-time fashion to allow quick action to remedy the leaks.
  • Airplanes and drones: Researchers and government agencies are also leveraging specially equipped planes and drones to scour for leaks in areas where satellites have shortcomings. Some oil and gas companies are also using this technology to increase the frequency of surveys in hazardous areas.
  • Onsite devices: Onsite devices like those provided by Aegex Technologies are great for spotting the smallest leaks, including single faulty valves and tiny pipeline punctures that would otherwise go unnoticed. Companies and environmental groups also use handheld devices to scan oil and gas sites for leaks.

AI and IoT-Powered Solutions for Predictive Maintenance

Companies are also leveraging intelligent predictive maintenance and facility management solutions to predict the time to failure of equipment and improve the general performance of equipment. A case in point is the Aegex 10 Intrinsically Safe Tablet, which collects data on faulty oil and gas equipment to generate valuable insights and optimize preventive maintenance efforts.

Leverage Aegex Technologies to Reduce Your Methane Emissions

Recent studies show in 2021 that global temperatures surpassed the preindustrial levels by 1.1 degrees Celsius, primarily driven by anthropogenic methane emissions. The rising temperatures trigger adverse climatic consequences that pose risks to the environment and human life. Aegex Technologies supplies innovative solutions to boost the global effort to cut methane emissions and address climate change. Specifically, Aegex's NexVu IoT solution detects and monitors fugitive leaks in hazardous locations and abandoned wells. It features smart sensors, endpoints, and radios to detect and monitor leaks without the need for human intervention. Aegex10 Intrinsically Safe Tablet is a Windows 10-powered platform that provides data-driven predictive maintenance insights to help oil and gas companies undertake prompt maintenance of their equipment and prevent leaks. Contact us to learn more.