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Satellite monitoring project in Iraq helps tackle methane emissions


The Oil & Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) has announced successful results from its pilot programme with greenhouse gas monitoring company GHGSat and Norwegian climate consultancy Carbon Limits, which has successfully demonstrated that satellite technology has significant potential to tackle methane emissions at oil and gas operations

The nine-month pilot used GHGSat satellite technology to cover six oil fields in Iraq from late 2021 into 2022. Once methane emissions were detected, OGCI and Carbon Limits engaged with local operators on the ground to help reduce methane emissions by helping to identify emissions sources and relevant available mitigation technology and solutions.

OGCI vice president strategy & policy Julien Perez, said, “This innovative pilot programme led by OGCI and GHGSat has clearly shown that satellite technology alongside direct engagement and knowledge sharing with local operators has enormous potential to make significant and cost-effective reductions in methane emissions.

“Based on the success of this first project, we’re expanding the programme to 20 additional sites in Iraq, Kazakhstan, Algeria and Egypt.”

GHGSat CEO Stephane Germain said, “Working with OGCI has demonstrated that satellite-based emissions monitoring is a cost-effective tool that can help operators deliver tangible reductions in methane emissions from oil and gas facilities.

“This pilot study is important because it shows how collaboration with trusted partners can be applied in the real world and demonstrates how satellite technology can be effectively integrated into broader leak detection and repair campaigns.”

The most common methane emissions sources that were observed were due to gas flaring, direct venting and maintenance events. At one large site, operators were able to make improvements in routine procedures to eliminate venting and reduce methane leaks. That cut continuous methane emissions to a level not detectable by satellite over the course of a few months. At other sites, the emissions sources took longer to address, and engagement is continuing to ensure all identified methane plumes are addressed.

The satellite pilot programme in Iraq is a core part of OGCI’s work to achieve global methane emissions reductions across the oil and gas sector. The OGCI developed the voluntary Aiming for Zero Methane Emissions Initiative, which launched in March 2022 and already has more than 70 signatories and supporters.