Methane has a shorter lifespan in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide but has been assigned a higher global warming potential. Every methane molecule that we can keep in the pipe helps keep atmospheric concentrations down, which is why we are targeting a methane intensity of 0.2%. This refers to the amount of methane emissions from BP’s upstream oil and gas operations as a percentage of the gas that goes to market from those operations. Our methodology is aligned with the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative’s (OGCI) methane intensity target.
We support well-designed regulations on methane emissions that complement voluntary efforts by companies. In the US, we support federal regulation of methane emissions to eliminate overlap between different government agencies and state authorities.
We’ve been using hand-held infrared cameras to detect small leaks before they become larger ones for several years. Improvements in technology now make it possible to quantify the emissions that these infrared cameras detect, helping us to better target and prioritize our responses. We piloted this technology in Azerbaijan and the US in 2018 and plan to deploy the cameras more widely in 2019. This will help us to quantify emissions with greater accuracy from more of our sites around the world.
We are also in the process of deploying gas cloud imaging cameras that have the capability to continuously monitor our facilities and identify new leaks earlier than when they are identified during routine inspections. The camera quantifies the leak and sends an automated alert to the control room. By reducing the time taken to respond we can reduce the total amount of methane emitted. The first unit will be installed at our Khazzan gas field in Oman and builds upon our experience of using gas cloud imaging technology at our Whiting refinery.
In our US onshore gas business, we’re using drone-mounted sensors to help us inspect our equipment, which can cover multiple well pads more efficiently than hand-held devices. And through OGCI we are investigating the use of satellite technology to measure GHG emissions from industrial facilities and aerial surveys of sources of methane emissions.
From upgrades in mature production fields to the design of new projects, we’re working to reduce our operational methane emissions. For example, our Khazzan site has a central processing facility, which means there’s no need for processing equipment at each well site. Fewer processing sites lowers the potential for emissions. We conducted drone surveys in 2018 that demonstrated that the Khazzan plant is operating according to its low methane emissions design.
Of our 16 major projects scheduled to be delivered between 2019 and 2021, nine are gas. For BP-operated projects, we consider GHG emissions reduction opportunities from the design stage.
OGCI has set a collective methane intensity target for member companies of 0.25% by 2025, with an ambition to bring that down to 0.20%. This compares with a baseline of 0.32% in 2017.
We have endorsed five principles for reducing methane emissions across the gas value chain. The principles were developed by a coalition of industry, institutions, academics and NGOs.
Working with industry, NGOs and governments, this initiative – part of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition – aims to minimize methane emissions from global oil and gas upstream operations by sharing good practice guidance and information.
Our US onshore gas business has signed up to this American Petroleum Institute initiative, in which more than 55 member companies are working together to reduce methane emissions and to share information on technology deployment.
We’re supporting Princeton University in its work to improve scientific understanding of the global methane cycle.
We convened stakeholder roundtables in London, Washington and Beijing in 2018 to discuss actions to tackle methane emissions. More than 100 people participated from industry, universities and NGOs. Participants discussed approaches to continuous monitoring and measurement at production sites, as well as actions to reduce methane emissions across the value chain.