Accelerating Methane and Black Carbon Reductions from Oil and Natural Gas Production

About initiative

The CCAC’s Oil & Gas Initiative is aimed at reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants from oil & gas industry operations, with a focus on methane and black carbon. Methane is a greenhouse gas at least 84 times more potent than CO2 over a 20-year time horizon, while black carbon emissions from oil & gas operations are thought to contribute to accelerated warming of the polar ice caps, among other negative consequences.

This Initiative currently has two components: The Oil & Gas Methane Partnership, and a project to develop and demonstrate new technology to reduce black carbon from gas flares. Other components may be added by the CCAC partners over time.

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Initiative contacts

Oil & Gas Initiative coordinator
Philip.Swanson.Affiliate [at] unep.org

Plan, action and progress

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Who is involved

Partners (15)

Canada
Lead
Colombia
Lead
Nigeria
Lead
United States of America
Lead
Australia

Partners (15)

Canada
Lead
Colombia
Lead

Actors

12

FAQ

What are the synergies between the Technology and Evaluation Component and the Methane Partnership?

Under the CCAC’s Oil and Gas Initiative, both projects describe complementary work plans to support the Coalition’s objectives for the reduction of SLCP emissions. However, the focus of each of the components is significant and distinct. Different emissions sources may, in some cases, be co-located within a single large facility, but are more often located at distinctly separate locations within the oil and gas production system.

Emission Sources

The Methane Partnership identifies SLCP methane emissions from sources or operational nodes which are largely engaged in the handling or transport of very nearly pure or homogeneous streams of gaseous methane situated within, and down-stream of natural gas processing infrastructure in the oil and gas industry. Little or no new or additional economic opportunity to recover readily condensable liquefiable hydrocarbon commodities is considered to exist within this system boundary, that is not already being exploited by large scale condensation activities at facilities such as straddle plants which already exist along major methane pipeline corridors to remove trace residual quantities of commodities such a propane and butane from large volumes of already processed gas intended for delivery to methane consumers.  Methane is considered to be the only economically recoverable hydrocarbon commodity around which to develop an economic business case for SLCP emissions mitigation from sources identified under the Methane Partnership.  

The Technology Demonstration and Evaluation Component for the Recovery of Liquid Hydrocarbons supports the implementation of SLCP mitigation of black carbon and methane with a specific emphasis on operational nodes such as venting and flaring which are clearly situated outside or upstream of the handling or transportation of nearly pure or homogeneous methane (i.e., oil production and natural gas liquids or condensate production), as described within the Methane Partnership.  Although concentrations of methane within the targeted vent and flare streams can contribute significantly to GHG emissions, the economic value of the methane alone, relative to the economic value(s) of the available suite of readily condensable or liquefiable hydrocarbon commodities, is often negligible and has been demonstrated not to serve to support the successful development of an economic business case for emissions mitigation at the emissions sources being targeted under the Recovery of Liquid Hydrocarbons component of the project.

Industry Practices

It is common industry practice to mechanically separate methane from VOC at natural gas processing facilities, in order to deliver clean burning methane fuel to consumers and this describes the fundamental business of the gas industry.

This separation is typically facilitated using large scale refrigeration technologies designed to preferentially condense out the VOC content, leaving behind an essentially pure methane stream that may contain concentrations of ethane or propane, which are often later removed through further refrigeration at facilities known as straddle plants which are located along major gas pipeline corridors. 

Therefore, the predominant hydrocarbon commodity being emitted from sources identified under the Methane Partnership will be methane, given that VOC separation has been undertaken upstream of these emissions sources.    

Activities

Under the CCAC’s Oil and Gas Initiative, both projects describe complementary work plans to support the Coalition’s objectives for the reduction of SLCP emissions. However, the focus of each of the components and their related activities are significantly different.

The Methane Partnership proposes to work with upstream oil and natural gas companies to encourage comprehensive, yet flexible, methane management and mitigation actions to encourage increased: 1) knowledge of methane emissions levels from oil and gas operations, 2) methane emission reduction activities, and 3) recognition for companies that adopt rigorous best practice in the area of methane emission management.

The Technology Demonstration and Evaluation Component for the Recovery of Liquid Hydrocarbons supports the implementation of SLCP mitigation of black carbon and methane with a specific emphasis on the emerging opportunity to cost effectively recover readily condensable hydrocarbon liquids that are otherwise vented or flared by the oil and gas industry, at operational nodes previously overlooked by operators for reasons attributable to technology or knowledge gaps and resulting inability for economic business case development.  The liquids recovery activities will be coupled with application of emerging technologies to effectively and credibly quantify the reduced or avoided SLCP methane and black carbon emissions directly related to the recovered volumes of hydrocarbon liquid commodities, and their associated revenues.  This provides a transformative opportunity for economically viable resource conservation and SLCP emissions reduction that is globally replicable and transferable.

The Technology Demonstration and Evaluation Component for the Recovery of Liquid Hydrocarbons will advance knowledge and demonstration of black carbon and methane mitigation opportunities though two main activities: (1) measurement, mapping and monitoring to develop technical and policy tools and (2) targeted demonstration projects to stimulate the commercial deployment of emerging technologies

In addition, the liquids recovery component specifically builds on work from 2011-13 with PEMEX (Mexico) and Colombia (ECOPETROL) that developed oil and gas industry sector-based plans for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) to address energy efficiency, natural gas and liquids conservation and utilization, and reduction or elimination of venting and flaring of VOC rich natural gas and associated emissions of methane and black carbon SLCPs.

The project identifies that venting of liquids rich natural gas results in GHG and toxic VOC emissions and provides for significant economic opportunity if all hydrocarbon commodities (i.e., methane and the condensable VOC compounds such as ethane, propane, butane, which are known as liquefiable petroleum gases or LPG, and natural gas liquids or NGL such as pentane, hexane, octane etc) are identified, quantified, monetized and recovered. The clearly described methane benefit which is entirely unique to this project is the utilization of the recovered dry methane as fuel to generate electricity to power condensation technologies for liquids recovery instead of venting the methane to atmosphere.

Is the proposed work complimentary to other international clean energy partnerships?

The GMI has been effective in promoting the uptake and implementation of technologies and practices to detect, quantify and reduce methane emissions from gas production. 

The Global Gas Flaring Reduction public-private partnership (GGFR) has been focused primarily on the management of large-scale flaring of stranded associated gas from primary oil production and brings around the table representatives of governments of oil-producing countries, state-owned companies and major international oil companies so that together they can overcome the barriers to reducing gas flaring by sharing global best practices and implementing country specific programs.

The project seeks to complement these international clean energy partnerships by focusing on the recovery of hydrocarbon liquids streams as a core priority with a focus on promoting the awareness and uptake of knowledge and technologies regarding the detection, quantification and cost effective recovery of valuable light hydrocarbon liquids. 

The approach is based on experience gained through previous projects in developing countries; notably with the China National Petroleum Corporation, Ecopetrol and PEMEX where the realisation of previously overlooked opportunities for the recovery of hydrocarbon liquids produced a rigorous mitigation plan to support the achievement of economic and environmental targets directly linked to their domestic and international emission reduction obligations.

How is the project linked to other CCAC and Coalition Activities?

The CCAC’s Strategic National Action Plan Initiative (SNAP), Brick Kilns Initiative and Health Task Force are included in the project’s work plan for activities that detect, measure, map and quantify black carbon and methane emissions as well as demonstrating the negative secondary effects of SLCPs. The collaborative nature of the project promotes the efficient use of scarce financial resources, strengthens the advancement and transfer of knowledge and technologies as well as the development and integration of policies and programs to reduce SLCPs.

Get involved in this initiative

If you want to collaborate with us to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, we encourage you to explore engagement options on this website and to contact the Secretariat to discuss further.

CCAC Secretariat
ccac_secretariat [at] unep.org

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