Shell sets methane reduction target

Article by Adam Duckett

Company commits to repair leaks, detect leaks, and install new kit to halt leaks

SHELL has said it will reduce methane leaks by installing new equipment at its operations, as the company echoes similar commitments made by fellow energy majors.

It will aim to reduce emissions of methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, to 0.2% by 2025 across the oil and gas assets that it operates. Leaks of methane from its assets currently range from 0.01% to 0.8% of the total gas and oil marketed. This includes fugitive emissions, venting, and incomplete combustion including in flares and turbines.

Shell says it will install infrared cameras to scan for emissions, deploy advanced technology to repair leaks, and replace high-bleed pneumatically-operated controllers with low emission alternatives.

With the oil and gas industry responsible for around 13% of all global methane emissions there is pressure to act. Following calls from shareholders, ExxonMobil announced in May that it will cut methane emissions by 15% and reduce flaring by 25% by 2020. BP similarly set a target of cutting 3.5m t of greenhouse gas including methane up to 2025.

“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, but it has a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere. That means reducing methane emissions brings immediate climate benefits, buying some time while we work out longer-term solutions,” said Mark Radka, head of UN Environment’s energy and climate branch.

Shell was among eight energy majors that signed an agreement last year to focus on reducing methane emissions. The CEOs of BP, Eni, ExxonMobil, Repsol, Shell, Statoil, Total and Wintershall met to sign the Guiding Principles document in November, committing them to reducing methane emissions from their natural gas assets and to encourage others to do the same.

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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