Shell Combats Methane Leaks With the Help of Satellites

Oil and gas company Shell will use satellites to detect harmfully but challenging measures of methane emissions from offshore drilling platforms. TotalEnergies and Chevron are joining the project.


The International Energy Agency IEA said last year that the fossil fuel industry must reduce the number of greenhouse gas methane leaks. However, there is still little insight into the extent of the emissions.

In the short term, the greenhouse gas methane provides 84 times more heat than CO2. Methane is mainly released during gas extraction and to a lesser extent during the production of coal and oil. Therefore, preventing methane leakage is seen as a relatively easy improvement in the fossil industry to combat climate change. However, in addition to additional emissions, these leaks also cause reputational damage for companies and waste in the production process.

Shell estimated in 2018 that between 0.01 and 0.8 percent of its total oil and gas production was leaking as methane. The intended maximum for 2025 is 0.2 percent.

The observations that the oil and gas companies will use come from Canada’s GHGSat, which specializes in measuring greenhouse gases from space. According to the satellite company, it is essential to get a picture of methane emissions at sea in order to replace estimates of global methane emissions with accurate data. Shell, TotalEnergies and Chevron will all use the technology on six of their offshore platforms.

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