Shell launches methane leak detection project in Alberta

Shell is launching a new methane detection pilot at one of its shale gas sites in western Canada, Kallanish Energy reports.

The project involves the facilities near Rocky Mountain House in central Alberta. It will continuously monitor methane levels via remote sensors and provide real-time leak detection information to facility operators.

The goal is to find methane leaks more efficiently and effectively using next-generation solutions and boosting technology.

The project calls for sensing equipment that can continuously monitor methane emissions, unlike hand-held optical gas imaging cameras that provide snapshots of conditions.

“This pilot shows we’re serious about reducing the methane emissions associated with natural gas production to support the overall climate benefit of this fuel,” said Greg Guidry, Shell’s executive vice president of Unconventionals.

“Shell is looking at all aspects of its operations, from equipment to processes to assess and identify emission reduction opportunities,” he said, in a statement.

The pilot project is part of wider multi-stakeholder initiative called the Methane Detectors Challenge involving the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), eight oil and gas companies, government agencies and technology developers.

“A new frontier of methane detection is coming, and Shell is helping to give us a glimpse of that future,” said Ben Ratner, director of the EDF, an environmental group. “The ultimate test will be whether the industry scales new tools and approaches to minimize wasteful methane emissions in North America and across the world.”

Shell currently has voluntary leak detection and repair systems at its shale gas sites.

The project is the first of its kind in Canada, although similar projects have been undertaken in Texas earlier this year and in California in 2016.

Estimates are roughly 1.1% of methane escapes, with 0.7% from natural gas production.

Critics say that methane is responsible for about 25% of today’s climate warming.