Minimizing Fugitive Emissions in the Oil & Gas Industry in 2024

Minimizing Fugitive Emissions in the Oil & Gas Industry in 2024


Fugitive emissions in the oil and gas industry are the new blind spot in the fight against global warming and climate change. Each day, tons of potent greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and other unnoticed and untracked emissions from oil and gas operations, leak into the atmosphere. A recent annual report from Climate Chance estimates fugitive emissions represent 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the International Energy Agency reveals 20% of the global methane emissions quantities are fugitive. This blog discusses strategies the oil and gas industry can use to reduce fugitive emissions in 2024.

What Are Fugitive Emissions?

In the oil and gas industry, fugitive emissions are leaks or unwanted and unplanned releases of greenhouse gases and vapors, such as methane and carbon dioxide. These gases and vapors come from production and supply chain equipment, such as storage tanks, pipelines, wells, and transport appliances. These unplanned or unintentional releases can be a significant source of greenhouse gases.

The Environmental and Economic Benefits of Minimizing Fugitive Emissions

The increasing quantities of CO2, methane gas, and other greenhouse gases from fugitive leaks reduce the ability of the earth to cool off by radiating space. In the atmosphere, these gases function as a blanket that traps a sizable portion of the heat that earth would have otherwise radiated to the atmosphere. This significantly increases global temperatures, triggering widespread environmental effects, such as melting glaciers, rising ocean levels, extreme drought, fires, and wildfires. Cutting fugitive emissions is one of the most effective methods to slow the rate of global warming and reverse climate change. Efforts to reduce fugitive emissions have additional economic benefits for oil and gas companies. Industry data shows the oil and gas sector loses a whopping $30 billion yearly due to fugitive methane emissions. Methane carries commercial value, and even small fugitive leaks can impact a company's bottom line.

Strategies to Minimize Fugitive Emissions in 2024

For many companies trying to eliminate or reduce their fugitive emissions, finding potential leak sources at extensive facilities is daunting, especially when done manually or using traditional methods. The most effective way to minimize or eliminate fugitive emissions lies in accurate tracking and reporting emissions data. This requires investment in innovative technologies that remove guesswork and improve data accuracy. The following are some of the digital strategies for minimizing fugitive emissions in 2024.

Use of Innovative Technologies to Track Leak Sources

A major problem in the war against fugitive emissions is knowing exactly where the gas is leaking from, how long it has been leaking, and by what quantities. Fortunately, the emergence of innovative technologies and digital tools promises a new era of climate transparency. Today, oil and gas industry operators are leveraging innovative detection devices to identify and track sources of fugitive greenhouse gas leaks accurately. Some of the tools to help you optimize your emissions efforts in 2024 include:
  • Satellites: Although satellites have were used to detect large methane plumes for years, their images were spread over a wide area, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact location. A breakthrough came when the European Space Agency launched the Sentinel-5 Precursor in 2017. The satellite delivers more refined images that can effectively identify some of the biggest leaks. Other revolutionary satellites include Iris and Hugo, and MethaneSAT.
  • Airplanes and drones: Players in the oil and gas industry are using special airplanes and drones to scour leaks in their more expansive production and supply chain. Planes and drones, such as King Air B200 and Shell-Avita, have top-notch sensors and cameras that can identify leaks with greater precision than satellites.
  • O-site devices: On-site devices like those provided by Aegex Technologies are ideal for spotting some of the smallest leaks. These gears scour leaks down to a single faulty valve or even the tiniest pipeline puncture. Companies also use special vehicles equipped with sensors to track fugitive leak sources.
  • Inspection dogs: it is not unusual for teams of German shepherds, Dutch shepherds, and Belgian Malinois to head out into the field in search of fugitive emissions sources. Where digital tools fail, inspection dogs may be an effective alternative to detect leaks. Their ability to find micro leaks from buried lines can save costs you would spend excavating large areas to assess equipment.

Proper Equipment Installation and Preventive Maintenance and Repair

Appropriately installing oil and gas production equipment, maintaining its integrity, and repairing faulty parts are among the most cost-effective strategies to eliminate or reduce fugitive emissions in 2024. Oil and gas equipment and vehicles operate under severe conditions, including elevated temperatures, humidity, and high dust levels. This exposes the equipment to higher pressures and thermal loads, increasing the risk of developing faults. Routine maintenance can help minimize emissions from venting that may occur on such faulty parts. Today companies are leveraging innovative tools to survey their equipment for faulty parts that require maintenance, repair, or replacement.

Minimize Fugitive Emissions With Digital Solutions From Aegex

Aegex digital solutions provide innovative leak detection and preventive maintenance tools to optimize your emission reduction efforts in 2024. The Aegex10 Intrinsically Safe Tablet can help you monitor the performance and equipment in real-time, so you can plan for predictive maintenance. Another digital option is Aegex's NexVu IoT solution, which is a custom configurable tool that leverages smart sensors, endpoints, and radios to detect and monitor leaks and relay data without human intervention. It detects and monitors fugitive leaks in your supply chain and hazardous locations, including abandoned mines. Contact us today to learn more.