Global interest in reducing methane emissions from oil and gas is rising, but in Canada it’s been an area of focus — and success — for nearly two decades.
According to CEC research, Canada’s methane emissions fell by 16 per cent between 2000 and 2018, even as oil production increased by 91 per cent. Meanwhile, worldwide methane emissions increased by 27 per cent while oil production increased by 38 per cent.
“Canada, and especially Alberta, is the global leader in technologies to reduce methane emissions,” says Soheil Asgarpour, CEO of Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC), a non-profit that helps technology developers cross the bridge from R&D to commercial success.
The governments of both Alberta and Canada now expect oil and gas producers to meet the target of reducing methane emissions by 45 per cent in 2025 compared to levels in 2012.
A reduction of 34 per cent in 2020 compared to 2014 has already been achieved in Alberta.
“We’re seeing a shift in mindset of the industry to where oil and gas producers are seeing it as a strategic choice with economic upside to improve their emissions performance,” says Connor O’Shea, president of Calgary-based cleantech company Westgen Technologies.
Westgen’s technology reduces methane emissions from oil and gas well sites. In the last three years its revenues have increased by 1,400 per cent, and they’re expected to more than triple again in 2022.
O’Shea says the company’s explosive growth is because customers are increasingly seeing the value of lowering their environmental footprint.
“I don’t think it’s going to stop,” he says. “I think management teams are going to continue to want and go get those year-over-year improvements in emissions performance. And there’s lots of opportunity.”
PTAC has been working for more than a decade on the challenge and opportunity of methane emissions reduction.
Late last year the research organization achieved a major milestone. As of October 2021, the technologies field tested through PTAC have capacity to reduce methane emissions by more than 45 per cent — if adopted by oil and gas producers.
The opportunity for these technology providers isn’t just within Canada. During last year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, over 100 countries including Canada signed the Global Methane Pledge, with the goal to reduce world methane emissions by at least 30 per cent from 2020 levels by 2030.
“If we can maintain our global leadership on technologies that reduce methane emissions, there’s going to be huge market created globally,” Asgarpour says.
PTAC chief operating officer Allan Fogwill says the success in Canada – both of reducing emissions and developing technologies that address the challenge – could help the world meet its methane targets.
“There’s nothing to suggest we couldn’t have similar impacts in the United States, the Middle East, or former Soviet countries that also are involved in oil and natural gas production. It could be quite significant,” Fogwill says.
“I don’t know of any other jurisdiction that is as far forward in terms of its methane management as Canada.”
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