Flylogix has worked with six major energy companies to measure methane emissions in the North Sea. In the last of a series of case studies, Peter Evans, Environmental Engineering Lead of bp gives his perspective on this pioneering project and explains how working in partnership with Flylogix, SeekOps, the Net Zero Technology Centre and other operators has created a blueprint towards meeting the Global Methane Pledge.
Flylogix and bp: getting the measure of methane
Measuring methane emissions from offshore assets has, until now, been difficult, expensive, unreliable and – in itself – a source of high carbon emissions, depending as it often does on manned vehicle flights.
Chris Adams of Flylogix says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure. To effectively manage and reduce emissions, you need a detailed and reliable picture of what is happening.”
The advent of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) opened up the possibility of measuring methane emissions with minimal disruption to the asset and with minimal personnel, at offshore facilities.
Generally, methane emissions from sources such as fugitives, combustion and flaring have been measured by ‘bottom-up’ calculations and estimations. This system means emissions can also be measured from the ‘top down’ for a more precise picture.
bp’s aims and objectives
bp, the first energy company to partner in the project, have stated in their ‘aims & objectives’ that, ‘By the end of 2023 we will roll out a new measurement approach to relevant sites. Based on this new measurement approach we have moved away from a target based on general industry methodologies, such as calculating or estimating emissions using emission factors. We are focusing on achieving reductions across our key methane sources, including fugitives, combustion and flaring; and on producing a greater proportion of our gas from lower intensity operations. We are also investing in technology to reduce methane and improve our ability to measure it.’
Peter Evans, Environmental Engineering Lead, bp
“Having a real understanding of emissions and the confidence that measurements are accurate is the basis on which you can make targeted interventions to then reduce those emissions. And so the purpose of the NZTC project was to put in place far more rigorous measurement regimes for methane measurement than have historically been required or possible, with the rationale that ‘what gets measured gets done’.”
“There have been various targets set over the years, but those were based on calculations and assumptions. We’re now in a position to deliver a more transparent, granular version of the data.”
“The actions that drive real reductions in methane emissions can only exist if everyone within the businesses knows that what they’re doing does actually makes a difference. Again, you can only know this if you measure it and trust the results.”
“We’ve formed a very effective working relationship with Flylogix and SeekOps, and it’s good to see the mutually beneficial relationship that has emerged from everyone working together.”
“The combination of Flylogix and SeekOps makes for something operationally effective. That gives us a sensor that is capable of operating at the emissions range we expect from our offshore facilities, plus a means of getting to and from those facilities in a consistent, robust way. Plus there is the substantial advantage that we don’t actually have to put a person on board, because moving people on and offshore is not something we do lightly.”
“What we’ve found with both Flylogix and SeekOps is a desire to get beyond the proof of concepts and the trials, and a real shift towards that long-term professionalism that moves the testing regime into business-as-usual. Previously, we’ve seen very good academic studies – research aircraft, for example, with PHd students on board taking measurements. That generates very good data, but it’s not something that’s sustainable in the long term.”
“And if you look at the orbit patterns that the Flylogix UAVs fly when they’re taking the measurements, they’re working in 10-metre increments in a column around the outside of the facility. There isn’t a pilot or a manned aircraft on earth that can do that. They can’t get close. And that precision is key to the accuracy of the data.”
“The involvement of NZTC really made a difference, because it meant we all had a ‘safe playground’ in which we could explore the technology option offered by Flylogix and SeekOps and formally collaborate on it. NZTC created a very straightforward, transparent environment which helps us communicate freely within our peer group. It also really accelerated things because there’s only a certain number of trials any one of us could have done in a 12-month period.”
Meeting the Global Methane Pledge
The Global Methane Pledge – announced in November 2021 – aims to reduce methane emissions by 30% compared to 2020 levels and has attracted more than 100 countries to sign up.
With methane emissions notoriously difficult to measure, a critical step towards meeting that target has been achieved through a partnership between Flylogix, SeekOps and the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) to accurately, safely and sustainably measure methane emissions from offshore assets.
Chris Adams of Flylogix says, “With the support of the Net Zero Technology Centre and the active collaboration of bp, we’ve been able to innovate at real pace and lay the groundwork for the energy sector to contribute fully towards the Global Methane Pledge”.
Rebecca Allison, Head of Emissions Reduction at NZTC, comments:
“We’ve talked a lot in the past about collaboration, and it’s been difficult to do that. But this has been a project where a lot of people have come together. The feedback from the community of like-minded people is what’s been exciting about the project.”
Brendan Smith, COO of SeekOps, adds: “The whole point of us doing this project is to be able to measure methane anywhere, globally, and generate like-for-like information, because to meet OGMP 2.0, operators will have to roll their data into one centralised location. This is a UN initiative – it doesn’t end at borders. So when we started this initiative it was to be a global offering and to educate the industry around the best practices for measuring methane.”
During the course of the project, the Flylogix and SeekOps solution achieved:
- 12,500km flown, unmanned
- Over 2.5m atmospheric methane data points recorded
- Average 10 x methane concentration measurements taken every second
- Data collected at just 250 metres from assets – the closest a UAV has flown to an offshore platform