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BP launches continuous methane measurement in Oil & Gas projects

10/09/2019
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BP have announced that they intend to deploy continuous measurement of methane emissions in future oil & gas processing projects as part of a programme to detect, measure and reduce emissions.

Drone technology is one part of BP's plan to continuously measure methane emissions
(Image via BP)

This industry first measure has been initially tested in facilities such as the BP operated Khazzan gas field in Oman, and will now be rolled out to all new major projects worldwide.

The company say that the data gathered by instruments such as gas cloud imaging will help them identify the largest opportunities to tackle methane emissions, drive efficiency and develop best practice - all with the intent to deliver BP’s methane intensity target of 0.2% from upstream operations.

“This programme represents an industry first and reflects our commitment to be a leader in advancing the energy transition by maximising the benefits of natural gas.” explained Gordon Birrell, BP’s chief operating officer for production, transformation and carbon. 

“For gas to play its fullest role in the energy transition, we have to keep it in the pipe. This new technology will help us do that by detecting methane emissions in real time. The faster and more accurately we can identify and measure leaks, the better we can respond and, informed by the data collected, work to prevent them.”

The Clair field was the site of a new UK record for longest commercial drone flight, undertaken as part of the continuous methane measurement project
(Image via BP)

One of the new technologies being used in the process involves a type of drone known as a fixed-wing remote piloted air system (RPAS) that was fitted with highly advanced sensor technology originally designed by NASA for the Mars Curiosity Rover.

In addition to autonomously flying a pre-programmed path and live-streaming valuable data from its methane sensor, the RPAS also successfully broke the UK’s record for the longest commercial drone flight - having circled the Clair platform at a radius of 550 metres for 90 minutes, travelling for a total of more than 185km (the previous record being 100km).

"We wanted to test a method for collecting large amounts of data on our emissions over long periods of time, without having to send people or equipment offshore. The solution would also have to deal with the turbulent atmospheric conditions that we typically experience offshore in the North Sea,” said Joe Godwin, project manager and Clair field environmental lead. 

"Ultimately, we identified the RPAS drone solution provided by UK supplier FlyLogix combined with the ultra precise sensor technology by SeekOps, as a good fit with our requirements. We set up a test project to monitor methane emissions from our Clair Phase 1 platform, West of Shetland."

Data collected will feed information into an extensive digital cloud network that makes up part of a global integrated approach to reduce methane and carbon emissions.

BP will roll out their methane measurement technology on all major Oil & Gas projects worldwide
(Image via BP)

Additional technology being implemented as part of this project includes a new generation of drones, hand-held devices and multi-spectral flare combustion cameras.

“Many of today’s technological breakthroughs were only aspirations until recently. Three years ago, we sat in a room and brainstormed what we would need to achieve continuous measurement, because at the time the technology portfolio needed was not yet fully developed,” said Morag Watson, BP’s vice president of digital innovation. 

“Now we have the technology and solutions to get after this challenge. Technologies like GCI enable us to have continuous measurement. Coupled with complementary intermittent tools like drones equipped with lasers and methane ‘sniffing’ technology we are now creating a step-change in how we operate our new major projects, so that, inspections that used to take seven days will now be able to take 30 minutes. That time saving will allow us to continue to innovate and deliver better results.”

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BP launches continuous methane measurement in Oil & Gas projects - Time to read 4 min
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