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Upstream Methane Abatement Toolbox: Government investments in methane measurement technology

Overview

Country: Canada

Type of tool: Other – Federal government funded RD&D and technology development within government and alongside stakeholder partnership.

Status: Support for methane emission reduction RD&D within the federal government and through projects with external partners is ongoing. For example, the Energy and Emissions Research Lab (EERL) at Carleton University, funded in part by NRCan and ECCC, recently completed Canada’s first-ever upstream oil and gas methane census, collecting vital data to help Canada better understand methane emissions, in support of working towards its ambitious target of reducing 75% of all methane emissions produced by our oil and gas industry by 2030.

Canada has invested in methane measurement technology to support Canada’s economic and environmental competitiveness while delivering on its 2030 and 2050 net-zero commitments. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) leads a suite of research, development and demonstration (RD&D) in methane programming. Funded projects have driven a wide range of measurement and mitigation solutions including novel sensor and remote sensing approaches and protocols tailored to Canadian upstream conditions. These efforts have improved the accuracy and reduction of uncertainty in methane emissions inventory data, while developing and facilitating the deployment of low-cost technologies for mitigation in the industry. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has funded various projects to measure and quantify methane emissions from the oil and gas industry and landfills with the goal to improve scientific understanding and the accuracy of Canada’s official inventory estimates.

Key points of interest

Implicated Parties

Canada's oil and gas RD&D ecosystem.

Impact

Research and development programs have had significant impacts on the understanding and reduction of methane emissions in Canada’s upstream oil and gas sector. Focused funding has enabled collaboration between key Canadian experts in identifying cost-effective emissions reduction opportunities for investment in mitigation implementation projects, and to develop measurement-based methane emission factors for the upstream oil and gas industry encompassing flaring, venting and fugitive emissions. 

Canada has researchers and engineers working on measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) and methane mitigation approaches, in collaboration with academics and industry partners. Work in laboratories such as NRCan’s CanmetENERGY Ottawa have advanced the state of knowledge in key areas such flaring, air emissions characterization, quantification of storage tank emissions, and the application of MRV systems in Canadian oil and gas and similar methane-emitting sites.

Measurement-based field campaigns that have been undertaken as part of federal programming have identified discrepancies in methane emissions accounting in the oil and gas sector, both from an overall magnitude and from a source-contribution perspective. Results from these projects have been key in better understanding the extent of methane emissions in the sector and allows for the targeting of specific sources for more meaningful reductions.

Technology development projects have resulted in the availability of several measurement options, such as continuous monitors, ground-based measurement vehicles, and aerial and satellite-based sensors. Developing a variety of measurement technologies better positions Canada to align with other international parties and reporting frameworks (e.g., Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0).

ECCC scientists are analyzing methane emissions derived by EERL using source-resolved aircraft measurements to improve Canada’s official inventory estimates for the oil and gas industry.

Challenges

  • Geographical differences – Canada’s oil and gas sector has unique geographical attributes that present a challenge to economically and effectively implementing methane mitigation measures. Purpose-built solutions that address the specific regulatory needs of jurisdictions as well geographical isolation of certain emitting facilities are required to overcome these challenges and equip Canada’s oil and gas sector to successfully reduce methane emissions.

Lessons Learned

  • Projects are providing the tools and knowledge related to methane detection and measurement, quantification, and source location, enriching the understanding of emissions at source and facility levels and their magnitude. This is crucial in the design of effective methane emission mitigation approaches in the sector.
  • Technologies and knowledge developed have the potential to be cross-cutting and have the potential to be transferrable to other key methane-emitting sectors in Canada, such as agriculture and waste.
  • Collaboration and partnerships are crucial to ensure successful research and implementation of results to achieve the outcomes.
  • Collaboration between inventory experts and atmospheric scientists are beneficial to understand discrepancies between bottom-up inventory estimation methods and atmospheric measurements for disperse sectors/sources such as the oil and gas industry and the waste sector.
  • This work supports our ability to track progress towards meeting Canada’s climate commitments.

Additional resources

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