Japanese player helping Petronas find methane and GHG emissions reduction tools offshore Malaysia

The Japan Organization for Metals and Energy Security (JOGMEC) has hand-picked engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) company JGC Corporation, a subsidiary of compatriot JGC Group, to commission a study involving technical reviews and formulating methods to control and reduce methane and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at offshore production facilities operated by Malaysia’s state-owned energy giant, Petronas.

Illustration; Source: Petronas

As a technical services provider specializing in natural gas processing and LNG production facilities, the JGC Group has worked on developing methods and technologies for detecting and quantifying methane emissions, as well as reducing overall GHG emissions, at various facilities in Malaysia. The firm intends to use this experience to build facilities with low GHG emissions throughout the supply chain.

According to the Japanese company, establishing suitable and accurate means for this was challenging because offshore production facilities are generally smaller and more complex than the ones onshore, with the measurement affected by the wind and sea reflection. Having worked on developing JOGMEC carbon intensity (CI) guidelines to calculate CI throughout the energy supply chain and GHG emissions quantification, JGC formulated methods to detect and measure methane in demanding offshore environments.

The firm applied advanced technologies from November 2023 to March 2024 to formulate an optimal methane emissions measurement method at Petronas‘ selected natural gas production facilities off the coast of Sarawak, Malaysia.

Top-down measurement technologies, verified at JGC Holdings’ research and development (R&D) center in Oarai, Japan, were used to determine facility-wide methane emissions with equipment such as drones and fixed sensors. These were checked against the bottom-up measurement conducted by Petronas to determine emissions from each source.

JGC also joined hands with international companies specializing in methane emissions detection and quantification from drone-based measurements, such as Finland’s Aeromon and U.S. SeekOps. The Japanese firm also pooled resources with Project Canary and SLB, U.S.-based players using technologies such as fixed sensors for qualification.

As the global warming potential of methane is believed to be about 28–84 times greater than that of CO2, the Global Methane Pledge initiative was launched in September 2021 to cut global methane emissions by at least 30% compared to 2020 levels by 2030.

Despite CO2 emissions from natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) being relatively low during combustion, GHG emissions from methane and other energy sources across the supply chain of natural gas production, liquefaction, transportation, and other sectors, need to be reduced. This is one of the reasons why 50 oil and gas companies inked a decarbonization charter committing to, among other things, near-zero upstream methane emissions at COP28 in late 2023.

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As Japan and Malaysia are considered among the world’s leading importers and producers of LNG, the two are stepping up efforts to detect, measure, and reduce methane emissions throughout the chain to comply with their Global Methane Pledge commitments. To this end, JOGMEC and Petronas signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in March 2023 to create lower-carbon solutions, enabling the implementation of the project to curb the methane footprint and the overall GHG one.

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In February 2023, a facility for evaluating technologies to detect and quantify methane leaks from oil and natural gas facilities, which is said to be the first one of this type in Asia, was built at an R&D center of JGC Holdings, in partnership with national and international companies. The facility opens its doors to activities related to evaluating new technologies, studying use in the field, and providing technical development support to other companies.