The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference – commonly referred to as COP26 – has concluded, and it’s clear that the effort to curb global climate change has added some new dimensions.
Industries such as oil and gas and energy production will be most affected by these changes, and thus they’ll need to take a proactive and continuous approach to curbing emissions. This is where the Internet of Things comes into play. IoT is uniquely suited to solve some of the toughest emissions monitoring challenges.
To help make sense of the new requirements that will stem from COP26 will impact monitoring and mitigation efforts, we asked four IoT and emissions monitoring experts here at Particle to share their thoughts on the new guidelines. They also discussed how you can prepare for an age where continuous monitoring will be table stakes to avoid not only rogue emissions, but fines, unsafe working conditions, and environmental damage.
A New Focus on Methane Emissions Monitoring
One of the biggest additions to the battle against climate change is the push to reduce methane emissions. Carbon dioxide has historically been the subject of most discussions about greenhouse gases, but methane is currently responsible for about a third of human-influenced climate change.
This is a new focus for the U.S., where the Environmental Protection Agency now intends to limit the methane coming from roughly one million existing oil and gas rigs across the United States. U.S. president Joe Biden’s administration estimates that the new ruling will cover around 75 percent of all methane emissions.
To understand what this means from a strategic and tactical perspective, we asked our experts two questions:
- What does this mean for the oil and gas industry – particularly upstream producers – from an operational perspective? How will this affect their business models?
- How does IoT give oil and gas producers a means of managing regulatory compliance and driving cost savings?
Rinus Strydom, Chief Revenue Officer at Particle
At 90 countries and counting, it’s clear that reducing methane emissions is a worldwide priority. It’s getting harder to avoid penalties for leaks and excess emissions, and energy companies are going to be forced to act fast to keep greenhouse gases under control.
At a high level, global legislation to monitor and reduce methane gas emissions underscores the benefit of accurate, continuous monitoring even in remote locations.
Where oil and gas producers used to show periodic measurements of methane emissions, they’ll now be able to show real-time emission data and prove that they’re doing everything they can to curb methane and other pollutants.
Cyril Bernard, Enterprise Account Executive at Particle
The recent COP26 summit signaled a big shift in how governments are thinking about greenhouse gas emissions. Historically, much of the focus was on CO2’s impact on the environment. Yet, methane is far more potent and dangerous. As a result, we can expect new legislation around the world specifically focused on monitoring and curbing methane emissions.
The laws and regulations surrounding methane emissions are about to get much more strict, especially here in the U.S. In particular, oil and gas producers can expect to see a lot more scrutiny around how they handle leaks and emissions. Failure to adhere to the regulations can lead to some pretty substantial costs.
There’s also the worker safety side of things too. If you leave them unchecked, methane leaks can lead to explosions and fires. If oil and gas producers fail to protect their workers, they can be subject to OSHA violations and major insurance costs.
That’s where IoT comes into play. Being able to actually monitor your systems from anywhere and get real-time insight into where leaks are coming from and how much is leaking is a game changer.
These new methane regulations are coming at an interesting time because we’re at a point where the cost and complexity of deploying an IoT solution for emissions monitoring has never been lower. The barriers to entry that prevented adoption in the past have been reduced, and it’s much easier to scale across large geographic areas now.
Raniz Bordoloi, Product Marketing Manager at Particle
Even though oil and gas companies were already trying to limit their emissions, this creates more urgency for them.
What these companies need is affordable ground-based technology that measures methane emissions 24 hours a day in real-world environments, and immediately alerts operators about leaks and other issues.
Methane emission reduction should be a shared goal in the oil and gas industry. It’s not just about limiting leaks on oil rigs, but also on wells, pipelines, and facilities. To be successful, you will have to utilize data, technology and innovation to develop the most effective methane emission monitoring solution out there.
That means finding an integrated solution that can connect equipment in multiple remote sites with full interoperability and security across the entire deployment.
Kevin Fontaine, Enterprise Account Executive at Particle
The question we have to ask is what’s forcing change for oil and gas companies in terms of them implementing continuous emissions monitoring technologies.
I see three major pressures on the industry:
- Potential six-, seven- or eight-figure fines for failure to mitigate excessive methane leaks.
- Public image. Being able to show not only government agencies but the general public that they’re doing everything they can to detect and mitigate leaks is important in a time when environmental consciousness is at a high point.
- Political pressure. You can’t talk about this topic without pointing out the political direction of the U.S. right now. There’s a much bigger focus on emission regulation under the current administration than in years past.
It used to be that oil and gas producers would do periodic inspections for leaks. This was costly because it required sending inspectors out to remote locations simply to check equipment. It also led to a lot of unplanned downtime if a leak went undetected for too long.
IoT enables continuous monitoring at scale. You can have devices tracking emissions across your entire infrastructure, providing constant vigilance without requiring companies to send inspectors into the field. The devices can detect “rogue emissions” and send that data back to a centralized location where analysts can determine if preventative measures are necessary.
One major use case has allowed one of our customers to help oil and gas companies triangulate leaks. The network of devices can detect high levels of methane, factor in wind direction and actually pinpoint where the leak originated. It’s much faster and more efficient than manually doing it.an
As Cyril mentioned, the cost and complexity of IoT coming down is also key for these industries. The ability to easily install and maintain a network of devices across entire facilities or rigs takes that barrier away.
Learn how you can use Particle to quickly and cost-effectively deploy IoT emissions monitoring solutions.