Why Continuous Methane Monitoring is Critical for Energy Companies

Digital technology advances are creating new opportunities for continuous monitoring. The technology is also helping oil and gas companies find issues related to vented emissions, as a Houston-based operator recently discovered.

Alex MacGregor, Qube Technologies
Why Continuous Methane Monitoring is Critical for Energy Companies

A continuous monitoring device tracks methane emissions at an oil and gas test facility in southern Alberta. (Source: Qube Technologies)

The risk of regulatory non-compliance and the rise of certified gas are making the management of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions a strategic concern for decision-makers. This increased focus is creating a drive to better detect, measure and reduce emissions across operating sites.

Detect, measure and reduce. Those are three simple sounding steps energy companies are taking to reduce their GHG emissions. Detect the leak by monitoring the site. Measure the size of the leak, type of gas and location, then take the necessary steps to reduce or eliminate the problem. 

It is relatively easy to detect a gas like methane, and there are a variety of technology options to do so. Solutions like optimal gas imaging (OGI) cameras, lasers and aerial surveys provide accurate detection of leaks, but they can be cost-prohibitive, resulting in companies limiting surveys to just a few times per year.

Intermittent site surveys are effective at identifying emissions occurring now, but struggle to account for emissions released before or after the survey was conducted. Site emissions can fluctuate greatly, based on operational changes or even the season, so operators relying on intermittent surveys can be left with huge gaps in data. A fugitive leak that occurs in between surveys could be left undiscovered for long periods of time, resulting in increased emissions and lost product.

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