Putting Canada’s methane solutions on the world stage

2020 LBCG Canadian Onshore Well Site Facilities Optimization & Methane Emissions Reduction Technology Conference hears from regulators, operators and service companies on the need for better monitoring, reporting and mitigation of methane and other greenhouse gasses.

A long time ago, when Oil IT Journal was Petroleum Data Manager, we categorized Calgary as the ‘E&P Data Capital of the World’. This was due to the serendipitous bequest, from a defunct big data provider of a high-performance fiber data network that circled downtown. Today, Calgary is teed-up to become a world center for methane monitoring as regulators, technology providers and academics collaborate. The Canadian federal government plans to ‘put Canada’s methane solutions on the world stage’.


Ian Kuwahara (Alberta Energy Regulator) and co-author John Jurgenliemk (Methane Emissions Leadership Alliance*) set the scene with an exposé on current Canadian regulations. A 2018 survey by Clearstone determined that Alberta’s three main sources of methane emissions are legacy pneumatic devices**, fugitive emissions and venting from tanks and well casing. AER has addressed the issue with Directive 017 and how-to Manuals 015 and 016 for reporting and management. Directive 060 (2020) added fuel and flare gas rules, extending regulations to smaller plants. Today, operators must have a methane reduction retrofit compliance plan (MRRCP) in place. Rules specify limits for each methane source according to asset age. Nnew plants must comply with stricter limits. Fugitive (more-or-less accidental) emissions are monitored with risk-based surveys and optical gas imaging cameras (see below). Operators have a time limit before these must be fixed. A fugitive emissions management program is mandatory. AER has so far approved aerial and truck-mounted sensors. Drones are under evaluation. More from AER.

* MELA, The Methane Emission Leadership Alliance, Canada’s source of data, technologies and solution providers that monitor, measure, and reduce methane emissions.

** Pneumatic devices use flowline gas pressure to power equipment or inject chemicals.

Mohamed Abdul (Natural Resources Canada) introduced the Canadian Government’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) program and its Emissions Reduction Fund that helps operators fund their compliance initiatives. The $CAD750 million carbon offset credit fund provides up to 75% of project costs and is said to ‘help onshore and offshore oil and gas companies invest in green solutions to reduce GHGs* and retain jobs in the sector’. There are many opportunities for further emissions reductions in operations, minimizing and optimizing the equipment count and using standard modular facilities. Better leak detection and repair (LDAR) practices and a move to zero venting are also recommended. Opportunities exist in the development and deployment of new technologies, especially from intermittent and unpredictable sources. Abdul issued a challenge to the many engineers who understand their facility-specific requirements and who could offer lower-cost abatement solutions. Regulations have halved methane emissions since 2005. Future efforts are needed to address incremental improvements with the aim of a further halving of emissions by 2030.

* Greenhouse gasses.


Rob Milner presented FLIR’s emissions detecting cameras with some impressive imagery of various egregious emission locations. Optical gas imagery is said to be the best technology to pinpoint emissions locations. The latest technology includes emissions quantification from optical gas imaging and the GIS-320 drone-mounted instrument. The handheld GF77 has been updated with specific lenses for various greenhouse and other gases. For large installations, permanent site-wide measurements Milner gave a shout-out to IntelliView’s DCAM sensors and software. Flir’s cameras have also been deployed by Colorado-based CleanConnect.ai to ‘automate compliance and achieve autonomous operations by harnessing the power of AI’.

Miner was joined by Jean-Francois Gauthier who presented GHGSat, the ‘first and only high-resolution satellite-based system to monitor methane operations directly from oil and gas sites’. GHGSat’s system now also operates from aircraft and the two systems can be combined to provide an ‘efficient, cost-effective tiered system for methane monitoring’. GHGSat’s first demonstrator satellite has been in operation since 2016. A second was launched in 2020 and the third, ‘Hugo’, separated from a SpaceX rocket in January 2021. A constellation of 10 satellites is scheduled by year-end 2022. The satellites are calibrated in blind tests of controlled emissions from OGCI partner companies. Gauthier presented the results of a tiered satellite/airborne survey over the Montney shale basin, British Colombia. Data collected from such tiered surveys is amenable to AI-style analysis for detecting flaring and predicting future emissions.

Cindy Verhoeven presented The Sniffers’ (an Intero unit) ALT-FEMP* compliance process. ALT-FEMP technology is said to reduce survey costs by 40% and has resulted in a 60% plus reduction in emissions with only one survey per year. The approach combines aerial and vehicular surveying. Verhoeven advocates mixing LDAR and OGI measurements to maximize the likelihood of detecting emissions while minimizing survey expense. SFEMP, the web-based Sniffers Full Emission Management Platform software is used to manage VOC and methane emission data. SFEMP runs on phones and tablets and integrates with enterprise software from SAP and IBM Maximo.

The Sniffers also participates in the UN’s OGMP 2.0 reporting framework an initiative of CCAC, UNEP, and EDF. Some 62 companies representing 30% of the world’s oil and gas production have joined the partnership and commit to reporting against OGMP 2.0. After the event, Verhoeven told Oil IT Journal ‘We help to establish emission monitoring protocols and multi-year programs for robust emission reduction results and year to year reporting according to the OGMP 2.0 standard. At minimum, our programs are at OGMP 2.0 Level 3 or 4. We can also offer a Level 5 program with both bottom-up and top-down measurements. The software we have developed, is particularly strong in inventorizing sources, taking in quantification data (either from direct measurements, quantification factors or activity factors) and reporting emissions in an auditable way, in accordance with OGMP 2.0 reporting templates.’

* The alternative fugitive emission management program from the AER Directive 060: Upstream Petroleum Industry Flaring, Incinerating, and Venting.


Dallas Rosevear presented on Clear Rush Co’s (CRC) enclosed vapor combustors, an environmentally friendly alternative to the flare stack. CRC’s clean combustion technology can be applied to most all of the above sources of fugitive methane. The smoke-free engineered combustors are said to provide 99.99% total hydrocarbon destruction and can be safely deployed within 10m of the wellhead.


Sharif Nawyaz from the University of Alberta presented on Canada’s national greenhouse gas reporting program. This mandatory reporting program covers all sites that emit more than 10 ktonnes of CO2-equivalent per year. A national GHG inventory, monitoring and reporting program is in preparation for six GHGs. However, as Nawyaz observed, ‘GHG emissions and climate change are global problems. The ideal solution [would be] a global policy that puts a price on all pollution across all countries and pollution-generating activities’.

James Diamond (Government of Canada) is working to ‘put Canada’s methane solutions on the world stage’ by seeking multinational engagement on methane and slowing climate change. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) manages Canada’s participation in various international bodies and holds the purse strings to the climate finance envelope. The two main international bodies are the UN’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and the Global Methane Initiative (GMI). The GMI is particularly active in the oil and gas sector. A survey amongst GMI members determined that priority number one was the ‘establishment of methane emissions reductions and use’.

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