Oil and gas facilities are responsible for methane emissions in their plant operations, as are facilities in a wide range of industrial sectors. These gases are often released through planned venting or flaring, or through unintentional leaks attributable to older equipment and piping. These emissions are now the target of stringent new regulations that have been introduced under the new Inflation Reduction Act in the United States, focused particularly on the oil and gas sector.
While the thresholds and reporting metrics have yet to be fully defined under the Act, they will extend to tighter methane emission thresholds for both new and existing facilities. They will also bring added attention to upstream producers, especially on leaks from connections, valves and piping at older facilities.
Now that further methane emission detection, measurement and abatement are being required, operators in the oil and gas sector must look to technology as a critical tool instead of a ‘nice to have.’ Innovations in software and hardware deployed for automation, higher frequency data acquisition and predictive maintenance have already proven their worth in helping optimize performance and reduce costs.
Technologies like satellite readings, 3D digital twins and ultrasonic sensors that detect leaks are set to play a significant role in managing methane emissions and ensuring regulatory compliance. Already in use by larger companies, smaller and mid-sized companies in the upstream sector cannot afford to delay implementation.
For companies that have yet to explore digital platforms and systems, it can be confusing about where to begin. So here are five ways to start your journey in digitizing methane tracking and reporting:
1. Audit. Begin by assessing your people, processes and technology.
Discern any skills, data or process gaps. Identify places where there's room to improve and where technology could help gather and provide better information, optimize performance and enable you to meet emerging reporting standards.
2. Define near-term targets. Identify some ‘low-hanging fruit’ to action immediately.
Talk to operators, engineers and field staff to find high-value problems to solve that will improve monitoring capacity and help with resolution of chronic leaks.
3. Develop a vision and longer-term plan.
Assess opportunities for technology to transform and streamline your operations from optimizing equipment performance to allowing the operating staff to work on higher value projects. Think of implementation as a journey rather than a destination and create the best roadmap for your company’s products.
4. Implement, iterate and refine. Deliver technology solutions in stages.
Gather feedback about what worked, how to improve the implementation process, and whether any additional guidance or systems are required for staff. Use this information to guide the path forward while revising your plans accordingly.
5. Showcase your successes. Get the word out to stakeholders and share learnings.
Build continuous buy-in, both internally and with external partners. There are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions. New software and hardware are increasingly mobile and adaptable, accommodating the unique and varied layout and equipment of facilities and well sites. New tools and capabilities are emerging, such as bundling the detection and analysis of leaks into actionable insights that can be rolled into an auditable emissions dashboard for investors or insurance companies.
Whichever emissions monitoring technology is deployed, it will become an indispensable tool for regulatory compliance. While some facility managers are still hesitant about the process and costs of implementation, it is useful to look to the resulting operational improvements, reduced downtime and enhanced production that will occur on the road to compliance. Digitalizing the management of methane emissions will drive improvements to performance and productivity as well as result in environmental benefits.
To learn how AssetCare™ can help in your emissions management journey, contact us today.