Industry Shares Thoughts On Announced Methane Centre Of Excellence

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With little known about the Canadian federal government’s so-called Methane Centre of Excellence, people involved in the space are sharing their expectations for the newly-announced initiative.

This week, the federal government announced a $30 million investment to establish a Methane Centre of Excellence in the “near term” that Ottawa says will improve the understanding and reporting of methane emissions, with a focus on collaborative initiatives to support data and measurement.

The DOB asked the federal government for further detail on the centre, but at the time this was written, had not received a response.

“I think it is exciting news to anybody in this methane space and I think, to be honest, almost everybody is in this methane space now — methane emission reduction. It is just how the industry is going,” Blake Wickland, associate director of the Methane Emissions Leadership Alliance (MELA), told the DOB.

“We don’t really currently know what exactly this is going to be and what the focus is going to be … but at MELA, we are definitely very hopeful that the process to actually form what this is going to be is going to be very engaging with all levels of industry, and very collaborative.”

Wickland wants to see the centre bring people working within the space together and cast a wide net.

“I think the centre of excellence could be a really good spot to collaborate with industry and ensure that we can create this made-in-Canada solution to reducing methane emissions,” he said.

“I would look at it from all levels. I think you want to try to develop and deploy quantification and detection technologies and evolve those technologies, as well, but also look at how we can utilize and deploy some of the existing technologies we have out here.

Added Wickland: “I think that is what is going to get us to that 75 per cent reduction goal.

“I think, if I was going to design a centre of excellence, I would just make sure that it covers all those different facets of the industry and doesn’t focus on a single thing. I believe collaboration at all levels is the key to solving these issues.”

Allan Fogwill, chief operating officer of Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC), lauded the move.

“It is going to be fantastic,” he told the DOB. “One of the challenges that we have had here at PTAC, even from our beginning was having sufficient funds to do all the collaborative work we’d like to do. This will really add to that mix, if not with us, with organizations that will work in this area.

“But we have been doing this, at least on the methane file, since 2008 — and all our projects have been collaborative between government and industry. So, we see this an extension to what we have been doing to date.”

Fogwill notes that there are unanswered questions with respect to monitoring, verification and mitigation.

“We need to have a better understanding of the complexity and use of various forms of sensors, right from those that are on-site to those that are in satellites — and how we can optimize that overall set of technologies to give you a cost-effective strategy,” he added. “Once you’ve actually counted everything, you need to actually reduce those emissions, so we are actively working on that, as well, in terms of the mitigation of various forms of methane emissions from different pieces of equipment on oil and gas sites.”

With a collaborative network of oil and gas companies, governments and regulators, working on key issues to resolve regulatory challenges, continued the COO, “we think PTAC is very well positioned to be a major part of that methane centre of excellence.”

Important for meeting commitments

In an email to the DOB, Dean Pick, president and chief executive officer, Kinitics Automation Limited, said the proposed methane centre of excellence has the potential to be a valuable resource to help Canada in meeting its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Improving methane detection is crucial to the mission, but the other half of the solution involves the tools and technologies that we as a nation need to eliminate or abate those emissions,” he wrote.

Kinitics Automation is addressing the issue of commonly used pneumatic equipment powered by methane gas that is bled straight from gas production wells. The company aims to replace these venting pneumatic devices with its non-emitting valve actuator solution.

“I hope the methane centre of excellence will be a hub where solutions like ours can be widely shared to help energy companies adopt new practices to meet impending regulations which prohibit methane venting,” Pick said. “I see this being an important step for our nation to reach its climate and environmental commitments.”

Dick Brown, president and CEO of Kathairos Solutions Inc., sees the potential for positives from the centre of excellence, as well.

“Anything we can do to support the industry in trying to address methane problems is a good thing,” he told the DOB.

While acknowledging little is known about the initiative, he said that “I am expecting it to be directed toward the identification and assessment of reporting of methane. But what I do know is Alberta is already well ahead in the development of technologies to address a lot of it.

“I think, for it to be successful it has to work in combination with both the technology offering and the operators themselves. It is interesting because, I don’t speak to any operators who aren’t interested in engaging in, ultimately, eliminating methane but also understanding how to collect data and how to understand how the data can help support your decisions for deploying capital to address the problems.”

In an email to the DOB, Thomas Fox, president of Highwood Emissions Management, said he would like to see a focus on measurement-informed inventories, strong international collaboration, and to leverage and align with existing standards.

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