Decarbonisation Technology May 2022 Issue

“Reducing methane leaks into the atmosphere is the single most important and cost-effective way for the industry to minimise overall emissions from core oil and gas operations”. “This should be a first-order priority for all” (IEA 2021a)

Reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations The second half of our focus on the Global Methane Pledge focuses on initiatives to reduce or eliminate methane emissions from oil and gas production, distribution, and use. While 111 countries have now signed the Global Methane Pledge, four of the top 10 emitters, China, India, Iran, and Russia, are yet to do so. Methane emissions from Russian oil and gas operations rank first, with Iran the third highest (Global Methane Pledge, 2022). When emissions from coal are included, China becomes the highest-ranked country (IEA, 2021a). China, India, and Russia are partners in the Global Methane Initiative (GMI), launched in 2004 (Global Methane Initiative, 2022) but which falls short of the Pledge’s performance- based commitment to a 30% reduction by 2030. Importance of gas in the energy transition • The outlook for gas over the next decade is more resilient than that of coal and oil, underpinned by the role of natural gas in supporting fast-growing developing economies as they decarbonise and reduce their reliance on coal (BP, 2020). • Natural gas is composed of methane (70- 90%) with up to 20% other hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, butane), as well as carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and smaller amounts of oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen sulphide. • Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas (GHG), over 86 times more powerful than CO 2 over a 20-year period, but with a shorter 12- year lifespan in the atmosphere, resulting in a Global Warming Potential over 100 years (GWP 100 ) of 28-36 times that of CO 2 . • Natural gas has a lower carbon intensity than coal or oil, producing about half as much CO 2 as


Total 135 Tg



Coal Oil Gas Bioenergy


• Reducing methane emissions is critical in maintaining societal support for the role of gas in the energy transition. It is in the interests of the oil and gas industry to show commitment and to deliver on that commitment. • The IEA considers that it is possible to avoid around 75% of today’s methane emissions from global oil and gas operations using technology available today. Fatih Birol emphasised that with 2022 natural gas prices, nearly all the methane emissions from oil and gas operations worldwide could be avoided at no net cost. • The current sanctions on Russia, coming on top of a surge in energy demand as the world Figure 6 Total methane emissions from coal, oil, gas and Bioenergy, 2021 Source: IEA methane tracker 2022 (IEA, 2022) . For comparison with Figure 1, 2017 total methane emissions from fossil fuel production and distribution were 128Tg (1Tg =1 million tonnes). coal for the same amount of energy generated (GIE & Marcogaz, 2019). However, this critically assumes a very low rate of methane emissions. The measured emissions rate in the US Permian basin, for example, would largely offset any benefit of natural gas. SEE UPDATE


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