The upstream oil and gas industry and the maritime sector are ramping up their efforts to eliminate methane emissions.

Australian contractor Worley has thrown its support behind Aiming for Zero, a global initiative aimed at eliminating methane emissions in the oil and gas industry’s exploration and production sector.

The energy sector is one of the largest methane emitters in the global economy. Oil and natural gas extraction, processing and transportation account for almost 40% of total global methane emissions from human activity, according to the Paris-headquartered International Energy Association (IEA).

Aiming for Zero — established in March by the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) — is focused on eliminating methane emissions from oil and gas assets by 2030. Its signatories and supporters include some of the largest oil and gas producers in the world.

“Eliminating virtually all methane emissions by 2030 is possible, which is why being a supporter of OGCI’s Aiming for Zero initiative is important as we work with our customers to reach near zero methane emissions from their oil and gas assets,” Worley senior vice president of upstream and midstream Oliver Morgan said.

“As a supporter of Aiming for Zero, we’re also committed to being a constructive partner to the wider oil and gas industry in this collaborative effort, and we’ll share our learnings and successes to help eliminate all preventable methane emissions.”

Worley will work with regional governments and industry to understand the emissions sources and to demonstrate how methane recovery technologies can result in emissions reductions in the short-term at relatively low cost.

Meanwhile, in tandem with Gastech 2022, Tuesday saw the launch of a new tech accelerator intended to help reduce maritime methane emissions.

UK energy giant Shell and shipping leaders have teamed up to identify, accelerate and advocate technology solutions for the marine industry to measure and manage methane emissions activity.

The Methane Abatement in Maritime (MAM) innovation initiative aims to minimise the environmental impact of liquefied natural gas in shipping, while supporting the transition to future fuel solutions.

Led by Safetytech Accelerator — established by Lloyd’s Register — MAM is a technology acceleration programme initially supported by seven partners: Shell, Maran Gas Maritime, MSC, Knutsen, Seaspan, Lloyd’s Register and Carnival.

In its first year, members will seek to identify and pilot novel technologies to monitor and reduce methane slip from vessels fuelled by LNG. Once these solutions have been validated, the initiative will seek to endorse them to industry from 2023.

Bridging fuel

MAM noted that LNG has long been understood by the marine industry as a bridging fuel to support its decarbonisation efforts — with campaign groups forecasting that more than two-thirds of new vessels will be powered by LNG by 2025.

However, while LNG typically generates less carbon dioxide and emits less nitrogen oxides and sulphur dioxide than traditional marine fuels, some analysis has indicated the environmental benefits of using LNG could be negated due to the propensity of LNG-fuelled vessels to leak unburned methane through the combustion process.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, estimated to have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of between 27 and 30 over 100 years, while CO2 has a GWP of one, regardless of time.

Measuring the scale of methane emissions, and understanding if they can be managed to negligible levels, will signal whether liquefied biomethane and liquefied synthetic methane are viable pathway fuels to help achieve 2050 decarbonisation targets, MAM noted.

“Shipping currently lacks the information and tools they need to accurately measure the amount of methane released by LNG-fuelled ships, and the extent of this impact,” Safetytech Accelerator head of partnerships Steve Price said.

“Understanding the extent of this methane slip will allow companies, society and policymakers to understand LNG’s real environmental impact, empowering markets to channel investments to new technologies that can reduce methane slip, or to other transition fuels.”

Are you missing out on ACCELERATE?
Gain valuable insight into the global oil and gas industry's energy transition from ACCELERATE, the free weekly newsletter from Upstream and Recharge.