OGMP Membership: How Continuous Emissions Monitoring with IoT Makes the Gold Standard Possible
The Oil and Gas Methane Partnership established a credible way for oil and gas companies to prove the impact of their methane reduction efforts. Membership has numerous benefits, but they can't be unlocked without continuous monitoring enabled by IoT.
In recent years, the world has paid increasing attention to the impact of methane emissions on the world’s climate. In 2021, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, initiated global efforts to monitor and mitigate the effects of these emissions, leading to a renewed urgency among energy producers to meet new regulatory standards.
But not all reduction and monitoring initiatives are the fruit of regulatory enforcement. Many oil and gas companies have taken a leading role. One of the significant voluntary initiatives is the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership framework, which provides “a credible mechanism to systematically and responsibly address (oil and gas companies’) emissions.”
In 2020, OGMP launched an updated framework. Its goal? To encourage transparency and a broader understanding of methane emissions measurement best practices for regulators and other stakeholders and define a path for current non-members to reach the gold standard for emissions reporting.
Let’s look at what the OGMP is, how membership can empower businesses to solve their emissions challenges, and how IoT can make the highest membership tier possible.
What Is the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership?
A part of the United Nations Environmental Program and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), the OGMP is a voluntary initiative started in 2014 for companies in the oil and gas sector focused on reducing and monitoring responsible methane emissions.
OGMP members benefit from access to a framework for reporting best practices and mitigating the impact of emissions. The partnership also links regulators, civil society groups, and the oil and gas industry to share key insights.
Crucially, the OGMP equips companies in the energy industry with the most credible existing framework for proving actual reductions to stakeholders, like industry investors—an area in which previous frameworks have failed or shown inadequate.
What Kind of Companies Can Join the OGMP?
OGMP members make up some of the world’s largest energy and solutions providers. Any company with operational control of assets in the oil and gas sector can apply for membership, including upstream, midstream, and downstream companies.
Denver-based oil and gas exploration and development company Jonah Energy was the first American firm to join the membership in 2020. Another firm, Crescent Energy, announced its admission to OGMP 2.0 in February 2022, with the goal of “(enhancing) the company’s reporting of methane emissions.”
Key technical partners in the OGMP include the Environmental Defense Fund and the Global Methane Initiative.
What’s the Process for Joining the OGMP?
To be admitted to the OGMP, companies must pledge to adhere to the partnership’s rigorous standards for measuring and mitigating methane emissions.
The process begins by contacting the CCAC’s secretariat. Then, companies must cross-reference their assets and facilities with the OGMP’s list of 9 core sources of emissions. These sources, for which the partnership provides technical guidance documents, are commonly implicated in methane leaks and excess emissions.
Some of the potential sources of methane emissions include:
- Natural gas-driven pneumatic controllers and pumps
- Certain valves, meters, gas lines, and storage tanks (more often implicated as “fugitive emissions”)
- Glycol dehydrators
Companies report information related to their exposure to these core sources to CCAC. They also explore internal or external solutions to any unmitigated emissions. Finally, they coordinate targeted reduction amounts to the organizing bodies and commit to reporting emissions according to the five levels of the OGMP’s reporting methodology.
But why such a rigorous reporting requirement?
In short: other techniques to report on methane emissions, for as serious a threat to the climate as they are, still fail to get the sort of granular, empirical data offered by the OGMP framework.
To outside stakeholders, the OGMP standards are a litmus test for determining which companies are leading the pack on emissions monitoring. For companies themselves, membership offers the chance to benefit from transparent roadmaps toward a more sustainable future—and reap the rewards of the enhanced organizational reputation of such a transformation.
The OGMP 2.0
In 2020, OGMP updated its framework from the 2014 original.
How has the framework changed?
According to CCAC, “The OGMP 2.0 Reporting Framework overhauls the existing OGMP reporting framework with the intent of fostering an improved understanding which then leads to strategic action while enhancing transparency for civil society and governments.”
Some of the specific ways CCAC signals it accomplishes the goal of improving understanding of emissions reporting include:
- Broadening the understanding of methane emissions across all gas and oil segments
- Improving the quality of reporting to foster a better understanding of both challenges and best practices
- Creating a more robust and consistent framework
- Laying out a roadmap to meet the requirements of the gold standard to draw in greater OGMP participation from outside companies
What Are the Levels of OGMP Membership?
OGMP members adhere to a five-level system for methane emissions reporting—the higher the level, the more nuanced and precise the quality of reporting data. The OGMP Gold Standard reconciles the so-called “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches to monitoring approaches described in levels 4 and 5, respectively.
Here’s what the reporting requirements look like—and a brief overview of the quality of data they offer—at each level.
Level 1—Venture or Asset Reporting
The most basic level of emissions reporting in the OGMP framework. At this level, an incomplete, consolidated number gives little context to a company's actual emissions performance.
Level 2—Emissions Category
At this level, emissions data based on broadly defined reporting categories represents a slight step up from level 1—but huge gaps remain.
Level 3—Generic Emissions Source Level
At level 3, emission levels are broken down into detailed source-level types. However, the use of generic emissions factors still “broadly misrepresents the scope and distribution of emissions,” according to the EDF investor’s guide.
Level 4—Company-Specific Emissions Source Level
At this level, direct measurement methods based on source-level factors provide for a detailed story not seen at lower levels. However, these “bottom-up” estimates are incomplete without including site-level measurements.
Level 5—Site-Level Reporting
Site-level measurements allow for a “top-down” glimpse into methane emissions generated in specific areas or in groups. However, these are mainly used as a check on data collected at the source level; in isolation, they cannot paint a complete picture.
Achieving levels four and five together is the path to the coveted OGMP Gold Standard.
What is the OGMP Gold Standard and What Are the Benefits of Achieving It?
The OGMP Gold Standard in emissions reporting as defined by the OGMP is a unified view of data points represented by the detection and measurement methodologies offered at levels 4 and 5. The combination of source and site-level reporting ensures all relevant stakeholders see the most accurate portrait of emissions data.
What Are the Benefits of Achieving the OGMP Gold Standard?
OGMP Gold Standard recognition is only conferred on companies meeting the highest possible standard in methane emissions reporting and mitigation. So why do companies pursue it?
Aside from the clear social and corporate responsibility the oil and gas industry shares for decarbonizing the economy and meeting the audacious goals outlined by regulatory bodies the world over, there are also serious competitive advantages to companies innovating in the area of emissions reporting and reduction.
As regulatory scrutiny of oil and gas production ratchets up, investors may flag companies dragging their feet on emissions reduction as part of a higher financial risk profile due to the threat of sanctions, decreasing market share, and other ramifications of these companies' inability to mount a green transformation.
On the other hand, companies that work proactively toward complying with the most stringent reporting standards may attract greater capital investment.
The benefits of OGMP membership via improved continuous monitoring include:
- Increasing the recoverability of oil and gas products by preventing unexpected downtime.
- Improving operational safety by monitoring assets for leaks, and controlling them remotely before the leaks turn catastrophic.
- Leveling your focus on lower-cost, scalable, and operationally efficient ways to mitigate emissions.
- Establishing a credible way for your company (and the industry as a whole) to show how natural gas can be a bridge to renewable energy sources.
Challenges in Implementing the OGMP Framework
Despite the upsides to Gold Standard membership, some companies report facing significant obstacles in their journey to gaining OGMP compliance.
Some of these include:
Large companies, with joint venture assets they don’t manage themselves, contribute to large gaps in reporting.
Non-operated assets make up a large portion of production at major energy companies. Despite this, emissions from these assets often go unreported or underreported. This incongruence exposes investors to potential risk.
Acquiring real-time measurements across a geographically dispersed asset stack has historically been expensive and logistically challenging.
Physical assets are often deployed to far-flung places—such as oil rigs out at sea or remote pipelines spanning thousands of miles of wilderness. In these cases, dispatching a technician is both costly and time-consuming. Fortunately, advances in IoT technology, such as continuous emissions sensors and edge computing powered by global cellular connectivity, makes these solutions much more tenable for businesses.
Teams can become overwhelmed by the amount of necessary compliance work.
Fortunately, the increased collaboration and transparency of OGMP 2.0 makes it easier for companies to break the process down into logical steps. Also, the partnership encourages companies to focus on mitigating 95 percent of emissions over less significant sources that might pose a greater logistical challenge to solve.
The good news is that advances in IoT technology and greater transparency on industry best practices have made reporting and mitigating methane more accessible by decreasing the cost of continuous emissions monitoring.
Achieving the OGMP Gold Standard—How IoT-Enabled Continuous Emissions Monitoring Makes it Possible
As regulatory bodies continue to ratchet up the pressure on oil and gas producers, developments in methane emissions monitoring will only continue to grow in importance.
It’s also clear that companies must be willing to trade out old processes in favor of dynamic approaches if they’re going to meet the ambitious goals laid out for them by regulators and voluntary frameworks for the reporting and mitigating of emissions.
For companies relying on the traditional ways of monitoring, these headaches will continue to grow. From monitors with prohibitive costs to deployment to technologies that capture data too intermittently to paint an accurate picture, the challenges of building truly compliant technology are real.
The good news? IoT Platform-as-a-Service solutions are relatively cheap to deploy, connect to both legacy and current physical assets, and can even be bolstered by over-the-air software updates and remote control functions.
With IoT, you can:
- Easily maintain compliance and keep up with changing regulations with all the tools you need to hit your emissions goals on schedule.
- Accurately and efficiently identify sources of leaks in real-world environments and immediately alert operators of any anomalies.
- Prevent catastrophic leaks and environmental damage by remotely controlling emission-producing assets.
- Share emissions data with regulatory agencies and other energy producers to develop accurate, credible datasets and use them to prove collective and individual impact.
- Gain more visibility into your operations: Monitor your emissions across facilities, sites, and end-customer services without sending technicians out in-person.
- Adopt lower-cost, operationally efficient monitoring solutions that can scale across wide geographies.
Learn how Particle's Platform-as-a-Service makes it possible deploy your own continuous emissions monitoring solutions.
One of the most impactful actions for reversing climate change will be reducing methane emissions. One thing’s for sure—new reporting standards and the new energy leaders of today and tomorrow will be powered by connected and continuously monitoring IoT solutions.