GHGSat satellite monitoring project in Iraq helps tackle methane emissions at oil fields
19 January 2023
- Nine-month program at six sites in Iraq successfully demonstrates the significant potential of satellite technology in methane emissions detection and mitigation
- Directly engaged with local operators to help address identified methane plumes
- Pilot expanded to additional sites in Iraq as well as Kazakhstan, Algeria and Egypt
OGCI’s pilot program with greenhouse gas monitoring company GHGSat and Norwegian climate consultancy Carbon Limits has successfully demonstrated that satellite technology has significant potential to tackle methane emissions at oil and gas operations.
Eliminating methane emissions from oil and gas operations is one of the quickest ways to meet the Paris Agreement targets. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas responsible for around 30% of current global warming.
The nine-month pilot used GHGSat satellite technology to cover six oil fields in Iraq from late 2021 into 2022. Once methane emissions were detected, OGCI and Carbon Limits engaged with local operators on the ground to help reduce methane emissions by helping to identify emissions sources and relevant available mitigation technology and solutions.
OGCI Vice President Strategy & Policy Julien Perez said: “This innovative pilot program led by OGCI and GHGSat has clearly shown that satellite technology alongside direct engagement and knowledge sharing with local operators has enormous potential to make significant and cost-effective reductions in methane emissions. “Based on the success of this first project, we’re expanding the program to 20 additional sites in Iraq, Kazakhstan, Algeria and Egypt.”
GHGSat CEO Stephane Germain said: “Working with OGCI has demonstrated that satellite-based emissions monitoring is a cost-effective tool that can help operators deliver tangible reductions in methane emissions from oil and gas facilities. “This pilot study is important because it shows how collaboration with trusted partners can be applied in the real world and demonstrates how satellite technology can be effectively integrated into broader leak detection and repair campaigns.”
Carbon Limits Director Irina Isakova said: “Carbon Limits are proud to support this important project that focuses on concrete action to mitigate methane emissions. “Carbon Limits’ work engaging with local operators helps build trust and develop the long-term relationships that will be vital to achieve the significant reductions in methane emissions that need to be made to meet the Paris Agreement goals.”
The most common methane emissions sources that were observed were due to gas flaring, direct venting and maintenance events.
At one large site, operators were able to make improvements in routine procedures to eliminate venting and reduce methane leaks. That cut continuous methane emissions to a level not detectable by satellite over the course of a few months.
At other sites, the emissions sources took longer to address, and engagement is continuing to ensure all identified methane plumes are addressed.
The satellite pilot program in Iraq is a core part of OGCI’s work to achieve global methane emissions reductions across the oil and gas sector.
The OGCI developed the voluntary Aiming for Zero Methane Emissions Initiative, which launched in March 2022 and already has more than 70 signatories and supporters.
OGCI also helped develop the Methane Guiding Principles Flaring Toolkit and supported the update of the Methane Inventory Systematic Tool (Mist) to enable companies to identify, quantify and develop a mitigation plan for their methane emissions.
Oil and Gas Climate Initiative
The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative is a CEO-led organization bringing together 12 of the largest companies worldwide to lead the oil and gas industry’s response to climate change. It aims to accelerate action towards a net zero emissions future consistent with the Paris Agreement. Together, OGCI member companies represent almost 30% of global oil and gas production.
OGCI members set up OGCI Climate Investments to create a US$1 billion-plus fund that invests in companies, technologies and projects that accelerate decarbonization within energy, industry, built environments and transportation. Combined, OGCI members have invested more than US$35 billion in low carbon solutions over the past five years.
OGCI members are Aramco, bp, Chevron, CNPC, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental, Petrobras, Repsol, Shell and TotalEnergies.
GHGSat is a leader in high-resolution greenhouse gas monitoring from space, providing actionable emission data to businesses, governments, and regulators worldwide. With proprietary remote-sensing capabilities and patented technology, GHGSat can monitor individual facilities, offering greater data accuracy, and facilitating timely strategic decision-making insights.
Carbon Limits is a technical consultancy firm dedicated to climate change mitigation across a range of sectors with the focus on most impactful countries and regions. Our team supports private and public clients in the identification, development, and financing of projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to providing advice on the design and implementation of climate and energy policies and regulations.
Over the past 15+ years Carbon Limits has developed a deep understanding of the specific challenges and opportunities to reducing emissions from the oil and gas sector through a combination of the field work, technical analysis, and policy assessment. The team has worked in 30+ countries in the local languages, building extensive network and trusting relationships with the operators and governments in order to bring emissions reduction projects to reality.