In the oil and natural gas industry, methane is released when natural gas is flared or vented. Methane is also released in small leaks, called fugitive emissions, from valves and other equipment used in drilling and production.
What is Methane?
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is emitted from a number of human and natural sources, including:
- Extraction industries such as oil and natural gas development and coal mining
- Industrial processes
- Electricity generation
- Livestock farming
Methane Management Principles
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, is an important issue. Canada’s regulated and voluntary measures for reducing methane emissions are models for other jurisdictions worldwide. Canada’s natural gas producers are guided by the following methane management principles:
Continuous Planning and Action
Continuously identify economic opportunities to reduce methane emissions from existing assets and in future projects. Create and implement plans to monitor and reduce methane emissions intensity.
Research and New Technology
Continue to support methane research and development of innovative and efficient technology and practices to monitor and reduce methane emissions, collectively and with stakeholders.
Transparency and Accountability
In collaboration with governments and stakeholders, maintain transparency and accountability in reporting methane management performance. Work to improve knowledge sharing of existing methane management information.
Regulatory Compliance and Support
Support public policy aimed at pragmatic, targeted and achievable reductions in methane emissions intensity from producing operations.
Reducing Methane Emissions
In Alberta, the natural gas industry is the largest source of methane emissions. About half comes from direct venting or venting from equipment and half comes from unintended releases of fugitive emissions.
The Alberta government has set a target to reduce methane emissions by 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. This goal will be accomplished through emissions standards for new Alberta facilities, improving measuring and reporting of emissions and leak detection, and working on joint initiatives for emissions reduction at existing facilities.
B.C. is a world leader in reducing methane emissions. The province has set targets to reduce methane emissions by 33 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050, from the 2007 emission level of 65.9 megatonnes.
Industry is finding solutions to meet Canada’s commitment to reduce methane emissions.
New Technology for Reducing Methane Emissions
Industry is serious about meeting Canada’s commitment to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations by 45% by 2025, and the use of technology is critical to find innovative ways for reducing emissions. Many new technologies and approaches are being developed and implemented that ensure the oil and natural gas industry can meet methane emission reduction targets effectively and efficiently.
Some examples of new technologies that reduce methane emissions include:
- Using solar panels to power pumps, eliminating the venting of emissions that result from traditional sources of power.
- Installing systems at natural gas facilities designed to capture vented gases, including methane. These gases can then be used as fuel, providing a supplemental power source for the facility.
- New software systems that track emissions at each location to help identify and cut methane emissions.
Methane Detection and Monitoring
Improved methane detection and monitoring is a focus for new technology development. New software and better detection methods, such as satellite and infrared cameras, enable industry to find and eliminate fugitive emissions, help companies design and evaluate specific methane reduction initiatives, and allow industry as a whole to monitor progress toward achieving the methane emissions reduction goal.
Collaboration on Methane Research and Innovation
Natural Resources Canada, Emissions Reduction Alberta and a number of universities are working together to develop a ground, aerial and satellite-based methane detection network. Industry has also partnered with the Petroleum Alliance of Canada (PTAC) on a variety of projects, including the use of truck-based sensors for area methane detection.
Through various partnerships and programs, industry is working to develop innovative solutions to improve environmental performance. The Advanced Methane Detection, Analytics and Mitigation Project demonstrates the use of remote sensing sensors, software, solar electric system solutions sensor and related technologies for methane detection, measurement, and mitigation.
PODCAST: Taking the Lead in Methane Cleantech
Scientist Arvind Ravikumar discusses a competition to develop methane detection innovations and how it could help Canada become an oil and gas cleantech leader.