GasNaturally members and partners discuss methane emissions mitigation in the European Parliament
On 5 November GasNaturally organised an event in the European Parliament to present the ongoing initiatives and future commitments of the gas industry to further reduce methane emissions along its whole value chain. The gas industry efforts and numerous industry initiatives have been documented in a report ‘’Potential ways the gas industry can contribute to the reduction of methane emissions’’ produced jointly by two members of GasNaturally - GIE and Marcogaz - ahead of 31st Madrid Forum. The aim of the report was to inform the work of the Commission on the upcoming EU methane strategy which is set to become an integral part of an EU long-term climate strategy to meet to the Paris commitments.
The event, hosted by Ms. Adina Valean, Chairwoman of Industry, Research and Energy Committee, provided an excellent platform to discuss the identified challenges and future actions with the representatives of the EU institutions, industry, NGOs and researchers.
Boyana Achovski, Secretary General of Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) and Chair of GasNaturally Steering Committee underscored in her opening remarks that methane emissions management and reduction was a top priority for the whole value chain of the European gas industry – from production, throughout transmission and distribution to utilisation, including in biomethane plants.
Monika Zsigri from DG Energy said that improving measurement, reporting and verification will be key to tackling methane emissions across the whole value chain of the energy sector (oil, gas and coal). The Commission activities and priorities include an internal study led by DG Energy, identification of hotspots, super-emitters in the EU with the use of Copernicus satellite system for detection and verification, as well as improvement of reporting with a potential legislative proposal on the horizon.
Jos Dehaeseleer, Secretary General of Marcogaz and Francisco de la Flor, Board member of GIE, Marcogaz and Director of Regulation at Enagás presented key messages of the joint report:
- The gas industry considers minimisation of methane emissions as an opportunity to actively contribute to short-term mitigation of climate change, accelerate environmental commitments and further enhance the environmental value of natural gas. The report identifies around 60 ongoing and upcoming actions in relation to awareness raising & knowledge sharing, standardisation & measurement, mitigation & reporting (For details see page 16 of the GIE & Marcogaz presentation)
- The gas industry has been working for many years to improve transparency and reduce methane emissions through mandatory and voluntary programs. The most well-known of these include: the Methane Guiding Principles, the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative and Climate and Clean Air Coalition – Oil and Gas Methane Partnership. The report provides a full overview of these initiatives and includes a list of available reduction targets.
- The gas industry has established a systematic approach to identify, detect, quantify, report and verify its methane emissions. There is continuous progress in both science and technology to improve the accuracy of the methane emissions data.
- The gas industry has developed reporting methods to increase transparency and comparability associated to the reported data. In addition to the national inventory reports, a number of players report their own company emission inventories, including methane, through the associations’ report and/or other reporting initiative.
- Verification and validation of methane emissions contributes to increased transparency and reduced data uncertainty. A range of reference standards, methodologies and frameworks related to emission control currently. There is a large number of best available techniques (BAT) available to reduce methane emissions that the gas industry is already implementing on a voluntary basis.
- Innovation in the field of technologies and methodologies (such as drones, satellites and digitalisation) is key to the further detection and reduction of methane emissions.
Key takeaways from a panel debate moderated by Andris Piebalgs, Florence School of Regulation:
Paul Balcombe from Sustainable Gas Institute explained that measuring of methane emissions is a complicated process: oil and gas supply chains are long and complex and the emissions can be either fugitive or related to venting or incomplete combustion with varying methods of quantification and reduction applied to each type. He observed that the industry was making good progress in applying various methods to measure the emissions, and recommended that more measurements were needed as opposed to application of less reliable standard emission factors. In his view the report by GIE and Marcogaz showcased an impressive level of detail and ambition, and he recommended that all industry stakeholders got aligned with strong targets proposed by the leading organisations.
Stefan Schwietzke from Environmental Defense Fund presented three categories of methane missions: 1) relatively large number of fairly small sources (e.g. leaks from pipes) which can be screened, quantified, inventoried and fixed; 2) relatively few but large emission sources make up half of the emissions from oil and gas sector (‘super-emitters’) and 3) unknown sources, such as improperly plugged abandoned wells. He noted that emissions inventories have an inherent low bias, not accounting for super-emitters and the unknown category. He pointed out that EU emission inventories do not account for upstream methane emissions from the gas imported to the EU including from the US. Methane emissions from the US oil & gas sector have increased due to surging production, but there was no data that would suggest that methane emissions from fracking wells were greater than from conventional wells during the production phase.
Eva Hennig from Thüga highlighted that gas leakage monitoring had always been done on the distribution side for the safety of the final customers. The number of leaks that have been searched for and repaired since 1990 have increased by 90% in Germany where the DSOs were teaming up to find new methodologies to detect and repair leaks, engaging in research programmes and information sharing.
Rosanna Fusco presented the latest actions related to methane emissions run by the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. These include: meeting the internal methane intensity reduction target of 0.25% by 2025 related to aggregate oil and gas upstream emissions; engagement with external stakeholders - UNEP, UNECE, Methane Guiding Principles initiative, and the European Commission; climate investment with focus on new technologies to detect, measure and mitigate emissions. Furthering of engagement and collaboration with institutions, NGOs, universities and government to improve knowledge and efficient methane mitigation mechanisms was key priority for OGCI members in the future.
Manfredi Caltagirone presented the work of UNEP in three areas: transparency, science and policy. To increase transparency the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership provides a protocol for companies for clear reporting of sources, levels and reduction opportunities. Methane Science Studies workstream aims at improving the understanding of methane emissions through a series of independent peer-reviewed scientific studies, while Global Methane Alliance has been convened to provide support to policymakers and regulators in developing countries.
Andris Piebalgs concluded the debate by saying that it was clear that the upcoming EU methane strategy was a complicated task requiring involvement of all stakeholders due to the scope, scale and complexities of the subject matter. He noted he could see an extreme goodwill across all stakeholder groups, which in his view was a good opportunity to build upon all the work done by the industry, NGOs and researchers to date, to deliver very ambitious EU methane strategy.