A New Approach To Offshore Methane Measurement

    Neptune Energy and Environmental Defense Fund launch pilot project to improve offshore methane emissions measurement.

    Neptune Energy’s Cygnus Alpha platform is located in the Southern North Sea, producing gas from the Cygnus field.

    Neptune Energy (Neptune) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) will collaborate to test a new approach for measuring oil and gas methane emissions from offshore oil and gas facilities. Drone, aircraft, and methane sensing technologies will be deployed on the Neptune-operated Cygnus platforms in the UK Southern North Sea, as part of a pilot project to provide a close-up view of operations typical of a North Sea offshore facility, such as gas separation, drying and compression technology, and flaring and venting.


    Neptune operates the Cygnus Alpha and Cygnus Bravo production facilities. Two drilling centers target ten wells. Cygnus Alpha consists of three bridge-linked platforms: a wellhead drilling center, a processing/utilities unit, and living quarters/central control room. Cygnus Bravo, an unstaffed satellite platform, is approximately 4.3 mi. (7 km) northwest of Cygnus Alpha. Gas is exported via a 34-mi. (55-km) pipeline. Cygnus connects via the Esmond Transmission System pipeline to the gas-treatment terminal at Bacton, Norfolk, UK.


    EDF will 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 prioritize mitigation actions.


    Neptune is an independent global exploration and production company with operations across the North Sea, North Africa, and Asia Pacific. “Neptune Energy already has one of the lowest methane intensities in the sector, at 0.01%, compared with the industry average of 0.23%. But we want to go further and have set a target of net zero methane emissions by 2030,” said Pete Jones, vice president of operations, Europe, at Neptune. “This study will help us identify where we need to take further action and how we can apply new measurement techniques across our global operated portfolio.”


    Last October, the European Commission introduced a strategy that calls for oil and gas methane regulation in the European Union (EU) and gives consideration to a performance standard for gas used or sold in the EU. The EU is the world’s largest natural gas importer, with 85% of its consumption coming from beyond its own borders.


    A key research objective is to establish a reliable benchmark for assessing total oil and gas methane emissions in an offshore environment. Studies show that official inventories can often underestimate overall emissions because reports are based on desktop calculations versus empirical data.


    Neptune is a member of the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP) and is a signatory to OGMP’s new 2.0 framework, which aims to improve the reporting accuracy and transparency of methane emissions. Organized by the UN Environment Program, the European Commission, the Climate & Clean Air Coalition, and EDF, OGMP will create measures for participating companies to document and report their emissions performance to better inform customers and regulators. Currently, there are 65 global oil and gas companies participating in OGMP.


    The study is due to commence in July 2021, with initial results expected in October.


    “Data transparency is paramount,” said Mark Brownstein, EDF’s senior vice president for energy. “Oil and gas companies have made commitments to tackle emissions, but you can’t just assert strong environmental performance. You must show it. Having credible data is the first step and we recognize Neptune Energy for valuing emissions reporting that is based on rigorous science.”