Field Performance of New Methane Detection Technologies: Results from the Alberta Methane Field Challenge

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Devyani Singh , Brenna Barlow, Chris Hugenholtz, Wes Funk, Cooper Robinson, Arvind P Ravikumar 


Emerging methane technologies promise rapid and cost-effective methods to measure and monitor methane emissions. Here, we present results from the Alberta Methane Field Challenge – the first large-scale, concurrent field trial of eleven alternative methane emissions detection and quantification technologies at operating oil and gas sites. We evaluate new technologies by comparing their performance with conventional optical gas imaging survey. Overall, technologies are effective at detecting methane emissions, with 8 out of 11 technologies achieving an effectiveness of approximately 80%. Importantly, results highlight the key differences in technology performance between those observed at controlled release tests versus those in field conditions. Intermittent emissions from tanks substantially affects detection and site-level quantification estimates and should be independently monitored while assessing technology performance. In this study, all technologies improved their effectiveness in detecting tank emissions when intermittency was considered. Truck- and plane-based systems have clear advantages in survey speed over other technologies, but their use as effective screening technologies to identify high-emitting sites rests on their quantification effectiveness. Drone-based technologies demonstrated higher effectiveness than other technologies in identifying quantification rank compared to baseline OGI-based survey. Overall, quantification under in-field conditions is affected by several exogenous factors such as temporal variation in emissions and changing environmental conditions. We recommend that assessment studies of new methane detection technologies at oil and gas facilities include comprehensive, continuous, and redundant emissions measurement.



Oil, Gas, and Energy


Methane Policy, Optical Gas Imaging


Published: 2021-06-04 08:48


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Will be available with final publication