Methane Innovations: Finding new ways to reduce emissions

Industry is finding solutions to meet Canada’s commitment to reduce methane emissions.

Industry is serious about meeting Canada’s commitment to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations by 45 per cent by 2025.

This is evident by the research and development underway in the area of methane monitoring and mitigation. An array of technologies and approaches are being developed and implemented that will ensure industry’s methane emission reduction targets are met or exceeded in the most effective and efficient ways possible.

Use of solar panels for power and systems to capture vented gas

A number of solutions are already being used to reduce industry’s methane emissions. One includes the use of solar panels to power pumps: this eliminates the venting of GHG emissions that result from traditional sources of power. Another approach is the installation of 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.

The future: Improving methane detection and monitoring

Improved methane detection and monitoring is a key area for industry. Better detection methods will enable industry to detect and eliminate fugitive emissions (i.e., unintended emissions due to leaks and other causes). Improved detection will also help companies design and evaluate specific methane reduction initiatives, and allow industry as a whole to proactively monitor its progress toward achieving the 45 per cent methane emissions reduction goal.

Institutions such as Natural Resources Canada, Emissions Reduction Alberta and a number of universities are working together to develop a robust 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.

Shell has partnered with Environmental Defense Fund, oil and gas companies, U.S. government agencies and technology developers on a methane detection pilot to test next-generation methane detection technologies. The pilot project will occur at one of Shell’s shale gas sites near Rocky Mountain House in Alberta. The initiative aims to enable better early detection and repair of methane leaks, leading to reduced emissions.

Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Shell and Suncor are working with GHGSat (a global emissions monitoring company based in Quebec) on a COSIA project called COSIA in Space to investigate the use of satellite technology to provide more accurate and frequent measurements of fugitive GHG emissions from tailings ponds and mine faces.

Meanwhile, Canadian Natural Resources Limited has partnered with Alberta Based LuxMux, Boreal Laser, RWDI Air, the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), the University of Alberta, and others to conduct a comprehensive program to improve detection, monitoring and quantification of methane emissions from area sources such as mine faces and tailings ponds.