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Short Lived Climate Pollutants

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Reducing short-lived climate pollutants - including black carbon, HFCs, methane, tropospheric ozone - could slow the warming expected by 2050 by up to 0.5°C. Swift action in the areas of oil and gas production, waste management, transport, agriculture is key, and has many immediate health benefits. Photo ©B. Thornberry

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Website: Oil & Gas Methane Partnership

Contact: philip.swanson.affiliate@unep.com


The Oil & Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP) under the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) aims at managing methane emissions and finding innovative ways to reduce them. Man-made methane is a short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) that stays in the atmosphere for around 20 years, a shorter period than the century-long duration of CO2. But methane is at least 84 times more potent as a greenhouse gas which means that any reduction has a significant and immediate impact.

Reducing Methane a Priority for the Energy Sector

Reducing methane emissions is one of the five priority climate policies for the energy sector, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The agency published the Energy and Climate Change special report in June, setting out a scenario with the conditions to achieve an early peak in global energy-related emissions.

The OGMP was presented as a major opportunity for climate action at the UN Secretary General's Climate Summit in September 2014 and is one of the initiatives under the Lima Paris Action Agenda (LPAA).

Companies can join the partnership on a voluntary basis by signing a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). BG-Group (UK), ENI (Italy), Pemex (Mexico), PTT (Thailand), Southwestern Energy (US), Statoil (Norway), and Total (France) are companies that have joined the Partnership so far, aiming to make natural gas a cleaner source of energy.

OGMP producers commit to survey nine "core" sources of methane emissions (view the list at the bottom), evaluate cost-effective technologies to reduce them, address them in turn, and demonstrate results to stakeholders.

The objective of the producers is to apply a systematic approach of identification, calculation, and mitigation to achieve results in the short term, so that the concentration of short-lived pollutants in the atmosphere drops faster, helping to slow down global warming.

Major Emissions Reductions Possible by Reducing Leakages

According to a worldwide estimate published by the Rhodium Group in April 2015, around three per cent of natural gas produced escapes as methane emissions, in addition to gas which is routinely flared and vented. Reducing such leakages to one percent for just half of the world's gas production would save 2.4 trillion cubic feet in emissions, the equivalent of 1,120 million tons of CO2-equivalent each year.

How far can the companies go to curb methane emissions? Quality data is scarce, making it difficult to determine how much pollution enters the atmosphere and to set clear timelines and targets. The Partnership therefore applies a systematic approach whereby companies identify leakages and decide the pace of their mitigation efforts, while committing to annually report progress publicly. A long-term goal is for participating companies to eventually include all nine “core” sources of their operations under the OGMP to be certified as controlled, which will also contribute to a credible data set for the sector.

Companies also stand to economically benefit from the Partnership due to increased product recoverability, and improve climate credentials in the eyes of consumers. Moreover, action in this area is gaining investor’s interest.In January 2014, three international investor groups representing over $20 trillion in assets issued a joint statement, calling on all oil and gas companies to get involved.

The core emission sources in upstream oil and gas operations

  • Natural gas driven pneumatic controls and pumps;
  • Fugitive equipment and process leaks;
  • Centrifugal compressors with “wet” (oil) seals;
  • Reciprocating compressors rod seal/packing vents;
  • Glycol dehydrators;
  • Hydrocarbon liquid storage tanks;
  • Well venting for liquids unloading;
  • Well venting/flaring during well completion for hydraulically fractured wells;
  • Casinghead gas venting

The Benefits

  • Credibility of a public-private partnership in recognising past and present efforts to reduce methane emissions;
  • Increased product recoverability ;
  • Operational and safety benefits from improved equipment;
  • Harmonisation with other reporting and disclosure standards;
  • Best practice sharing and support;
  • Development of a reliable industry data set to underpin the climate credentials and growth of natural gas.

Photo credit: Ken Doerr (Flickr)

 

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