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BP to tackle emissions on projects with new tech

Supermajor to use real time data to speed up detection and response to methane leaks

Supermajor BP is introducing new measures on its oil and gas projects around the world to detect, measure and reduce methane emissions, including by using new remote technology and drones.

BP on Tuesday unveiled a plan to introduce continuous measurement on all major projects worldwide that will see the UK giant roll out instruments such as gas cloud imaging (GCI) after installing and testing the technology at the giant operated Khazzan gas field in Oman.

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The data generated will help BP identify the largest opportunities to tackle methane emissions, drive efficiency and develop best practice – and is ultimately aimed at delivering and improving on BP’s methane intensity target of 0.2% from its upstream operations, the company said.

Gordon Birrell, BP’s chief operating officer for production, transformation and carbon, said: “For gas to play its fullest role in the energy transition, we have to keep it in the pipe. This new technology will help us do that by detecting methane emissions in real time.

“The faster and more accurately we can identify and measure leaks, the better we can respond and, informed by the data collected, work to prevent them,” he said.

In addition to the plans for continuous methane measurement, in the North Sea, BP has already tested a pilot project designed to remotely monitor emissions offshore.

The pilot combined highly advanced sensor technology with a fixed-wing remote piloted air system (RPAS), or drone. The RPAS solution was provided by UK supplier FlyLogix combined with sensor technology by SeekOps.

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The drone circled the Clair platform at a radius of 550 metres for 90 minutes, travelling for a total of more than 185 kilometres. The pre-programmed unit, once airborne, managed itself autonomously. Throughout the flight, the RPAS live-streamed data collected by the methane sensor.

Project manager, Joe Godwin, Clair field environmental lead, said: “The drone itself was tracked and remotely controlled by a team of three qualified pilots using satellite communications and radio link from the remote Island of Papa Stour – the team never had to leave their base onshore”.

Morag Watson, BP’s vice president of digital innovation, added: “Technologies like GCI (gas cloud imaging) enable us to have continuous measurement. Coupled with complementary intermittent tools like drones equipped with lasers and methane ‘sniffing’ technology we are now creating a step-change in how we operate our new major projects, so that, inspections that used to take seven days will now be able to take 30 minutes. That time saving will allow us to continue to innovate and deliver better results.”

The specialist drone will be deployed to all of BP’s North Sea assets in 2020.

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