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The Sniffers launches Methane Accounting Program

Published by , Senior Editor
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Over the last 50 years, climatologists have established that the Earth is warming up due to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

During the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris, France, a target was set to limit global warming to below 2°C. Equally important was the recognition that CO2 emissions alone are not responsible for global warming; methane (CH4) is an equally critically-important greenhouse gas.

CH4: A bigger culprit

While limiting CO2 emissions influences climate for hundreds of years, it has little short-term effect. Reducing methane emissions slows down global warming immediately as it has a greenhouse gas potential 84 times more harmful than CO2.

In an era of sustainable development, oil and gas asset owners are confronted with challenging objectives to reduce methane emissions. Knowing that approximately 2.3% of produced methane is leaking into the atmosphere, the industry has made methane reduction a priority issue to avoid the +2°C scenario.

However, the industry is struggling to create a transparent and credible picture of the accurate amount of methane emissions. Most reported methane emission values from assets are not precise and are based on estimation models and rough measurements. This is a growing issue for the oil and gas sector.

Mitigating methane emissions

Effective emission reduction starts with knowing the exact location and the magnitude of those losses. There is also the need for reliable and credible data covering the whole gas value chain.

The Sniffers has developed a Methane Accounting Program to assist oil and gas asset owners to realise their environmental and sustainability ambition for methane.

Emissions across the gas value chain

Today, emissions occur in any installation of natural gas - onshore and offshore, during production and processing, or at the time of transportation, storage and distribution. These emissions might be intended or unintended, accidental from pressure safety valves or blowouts; canalised to a vent or flare with incomplete combustion or related to maintenance activities.

All the different sources of methane emission throughout the gas value chain make it hard to get an accurate picture of the correct emission behaviour. Desktop studies, emission models and emission factors on one hand, and opposing information from remote sensing campaigns realised by independent organisations on the other hand, make it difficult for the oil and gas companies to produce credible figures that convince all stakeholders.

The Sniffers’ Methane Accounting Program determines how much methane is emitted per asset and across the entire chain from well to market. It reduces these methane emissions bearing sustainability in mind and reports audited data to all stakeholders in a credible way.

“The program consists of three key steps. First, we develop a Fit-for-Purpose Methane Program together with the customer. It incorporates the right technologies and protocols for the methane situation at the site. Next, Field Emission Surveys are executed. We start from a bottom-up inventory of all potentially emitting sources and generate accurate and reliable measurements,” said Bart Wauterickx, CEO, The Sniffers.

The program, based on a ‘fit for purpose’ train of thought, takes the comprehensive approach towards continuous improvement of all emissions from all assets on the gas value chain. It considers all relevant technologies and protocols and provides a balance between sufficiently accurate emission figures and the cost of such a program. “The detailed figures and emission report are then assessed, leading to a stream of continuous improvement actions for a finetuned Program for Sustainable Improvements. This is the third and final step in the program. The Sustainable Improvement Program can consist of adjusting measuring frequencies based on risk-based inspection approaches, continuous IoT sensor measurements or remote emission monitoring techniques,” Bart Wauterickx added.

Bottom-up approach for transparent, credible results

With a wealth of experience and knowledge in effective emission reduction programs, The Sniffers’ Methane Accounting Program applies to all steps of the gas value chain and delivers tangible results. The detailed methane emission figures provide a tremendous insight into the environmental performance of the assets and in the opportunities for further improvement. It allows customers to drive and prioritise remediation through maintenance projects and engineering changes. More opportunities become visible through peer-to-peer benchmarking against The Sniffers’ extensive emission database; best practices are revealed and areas for improvements become visible.

This detailed action-oriented approach from the Methane Accounting Program creates high awareness of the environmental impact of oil and gas installations. The program also allows customers to identify the biggest opportunities for methane emission reduction and enables reliable communication of actual emission data to all stakeholders involved.

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