Photo: Drone; Source: Neptune Energy

Neptune wraps up methane study in push to drive down emissions from O&G

Oil and gas company Neptune Energy has completed what it says is a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to measure methane emissions on a working UK offshore platform using drone technologies.

Methane is the primary component of natural gas and is a potent greenhouse gas.

Neptune Energy and EDF entered into a scientific collaboration to test an approach for measuring oil and gas methane emissions from offshore oil and gas facilities in March 2021.

It was agreed that EDF would coordinate a team of international researchers that includes Scientific Aviation, a provider of airborne emissions sensing, and Texo DSI, a UK-based drone platform provider, to evaluate advanced methods for quantifying facility-level offshore methane emissions, identify key sources and prioritise mitigation actions.

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Providing an update on the study, Neptune said on Tuesday that fixed-wing and rotary drones equipped with methane-sensing equipment were deployed on its operated Cygnus gas production platform in the UK Southern North Sea, to assess methods for identifying and quantifying facility-level offshore methane emissions, and actions to reduce them. The results of the study will be published in a scientific peer-reviewed paper in 2022.

According to Neptune, a key objective was to establish an accurate, scientific benchmark for measuring total methane emissions within an offshore environment to help develop best-practice approaches for the wider upstream industry. Tackling methane is a key topic of discussion at the COP26 event in Glasgow this week, with an increasing focus on how the oil and gas industry can employ existing technologies to reduce operational emissions of the potent greenhouse gas.

Neptune Energy’s VP Operations Europe, Pete Jones, said: “The abatement of methane emissions will be crucial in meeting the Paris Agreement goals and, given the short lifespan of methane emissions, we know that taking meaningful action today can bring positive results in as little as nine years.”

Jones added: “Proactive action by the UK offshore industry including the reduction of flaring and venting contributed towards an 11 per cent fall in upstream GHG emissions between 2018 and 2020. By using advanced, existing technologies and novel approaches such as those employed in this latest study, the UK sector can continue to lead the way in driving down methane emissions from oil and gas operations.”

As agreed, the five-day study was coordinated by EDF, involving a team from Texo DSI, operating a rotary drone provided by Scientific Aviation. Equipped with sensing technology, the drone measured emissions at multiple locations around the platform.

In parallel, an unmanned fixed-wing drone carrying methane measuring and analytics technology provided by SeekOps was flown from Weybourne Airfield in Norfolk to the Cygnus platform. Operated by Flylogix, the aircraft circled the facility, starting at a point above the platform and reducing incrementally to just above sea level, recording the total volume of emissions. Covering a total of more than 313 miles, the operation was believed to be one of the longest of its kind to be carried out in the UK North Sea.

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Neptune has also recently backed the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative, which brings together governments, companies, and development institutions to eliminate routine gas flaring in oil production no later than 2030.