Flylogix has worked with six major energy companies to measure methane emissions in the North Sea. In the 3rd of a series of case studies, Christophe Le Boucher, Senior Engineer, methane emission measurement and mitigation, Shell(1), gives his perspective on this pioneering project. He explains how working in collaboration with Flylogix, SeekOps, the Net Zero Technology Centre and other operators has created useful insights in the technology and how it can support Shell’s ambitions in monitoring and reducing methane emissions.
Flylogix and Shell: getting the measure of methane
There is an increasing focus on improving methane emission monitoring, reporting and verification in industry and society. Methane emission quantification technologies have so far mostly been developed and tested for onshore applications. This project developed and tested a suitable technology solution for offshore facilities.
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.
The system tested in this project provides ‘top down’ measurements covering the whole facility, which allows for reconciliation of the results with the bottom-up reported numbers.
Christophe Le Boucher, senior engineer, methane emission measurement, Shell project lead and liaison with Flylogix and SeekOps says:
“The Flylogix and SeekOps project is linked to Shell’s methane target announced in 2018 to maintain methane emission intensity below 0.2% for all assets in Upstream and Integrated Gas that are operated by Shell. In this context we also support the ‘Methane Guiding Principles’ – including principle 3, ‘to improve accuracy of methane emissions data’ and principle 5, to ‘increase transparency’ and have also signed up to the Oil & Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP) 2.0 reporting framework. We believe that the Flylogix and SeekOps technology can contribute to meeting the requirements put forward in these global initiatives for clear and transparent reporting on emissions.”
“When it comes to methane emission quantification, measuring the methane atmospheric concentration is only one part of the technical challenge. The concentration data need to be converted into emission rates through a process called ‘inversion’, which requires reliable wind data and a reliable algorithm to compute the results, on top of robust concentration measurements. In this project Flylogix and Seekops have demonstrated and improved the capability of the whole system from data collection to calculation and reporting of overall methane emission rates.”
“Having completed three UAV flights and emissions measurements on a specific asset and compared the top-down observations with our own bottom-up estimates, we’ve seen encouraging and positive consistency in the results. The project also included system testing carried out onshore with controlled releases which was another factor that improved our understanding of the technology performance and increased confidence in the data.”
“On the operational side, we’ve been impressed with the ability of Flylogix to operate safely and efficiently to deliver measurements, with low impact on operations.”
“Another plus of the project has been working with the other operators and the facilitation of the NZTC. The collaboration overall was very good and effective. The projects had a learning-by-doing approach, with inputs by different participants on requirements and results. This approach allowed to steer the development of the technology, improve its performance and share valuable feedback.”
“For us at Shell, this was a successful technology pilot and joint development programme.”
Tackling methane emissions
A collaboration between Flylogix, SeekOps and the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) achieved a critical step towards better and credible quantification of methane emissions for offshore assets in a safe manner.
Chris Adams of Flylogix says, “With the support of the Net Zero Technology Centre and the active collaboration of Shell, we’ve been able to innovate at real pace and lay the groundwork for the energy sector to contribute transparently towards reducing their methane emissions.”
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. So, when we started this initiative it was to be a global offering and to inform the industry of 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
(1) The companies in which Shell plc directly and indirectly owns investments are separate legal entities. The term “Shell” is used for convenience where references are made to Shell plc and its subsidiaries in general.