Approach to Methane Emissions Reduction
As one of the highest-impact greenhouse gases, methane is an important element in Vermilion’s focus on climate-related risks and opportunities, particularly in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas production. The economic viability of methane leakage prevention is important, with two factors influencing continuing developments: significant advancements in technology – fostered by government commitments surrounding climate change – and the cost of carbon. Combined, these will act to reduce the financial expenditure associated with methane leak detection and the updating of older infrastructure that is prone to sources of methane.
We are actively pursuing options to reduce our methane , supported by commitments from many of our operating regions. Alberta, for example was the first regional government in North America to commit to a methane emissions reduction target for the oil and gas sector – 45% by 2025 – and France has signed on to the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 Initiative.
Understanding that this is a developing area, we have teams in each business unit that monitor regulatory development and share learnings with other business unit teams and corporate groups. We continue to assess our operations to determine areas where we can prevent methane releases and have a positive impact on our Scope 1 emission reduction target. This also supports our participation in both voluntary and regulatory-driven methane reduction programs.
SOURCES AND DETECTION
Similar to any upstream oil and gas operation, the majority of methane emissions from Vermilion’s operations stem from venting, flaring (which typically achieves 98% combustion efficiency), storage and process/instrumentation.
Vermilion has emissions quantification programs in all operated business units. We also have fugitive emission programs in place that are managed through our operations groups in each business unit, with the exception of our offshore platform in our Australia operation (an oil asset with no natural gas production infrastructure). Our Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program varies between business units:
- Canada: An expanded LDAR program was implemented in 2020, with effectively 100% of our operated Alberta facilities and multi-well pads now assessed annually using optical gas imaging (OGI) technology. At our predominantly oil-producing Saskatchewan assets, OGI surveys are undertaken annually at our larger facilities in accordance with regulatory requirements. Routine checks for natural gas releases using a Forward-looking InfraRed (FLIR) camera are completed by operations personnel at our smaller Saskatchewan assets in conjunction with regular field visits. In addition to thermal imaging, Auditory, Visual and Olfactory (AVO) inspections are a standard component of operator field visits. Targeted identification of leaks during facilities work is also built into all turnaround activities.
- France: Quantitative LDAR programs vary annually. As this is an oil-dominated asset, the volume of natural gas and associated CH4 emitted is low. All operated well clusters are checked at least daily and twice daily in more sensitive areas such as Parentis Lake. Pipeline routes are surveyed at weekly or monthly intervals depending on the sensitivity of the pipeline location and pipeline type. Process security equipment, including pressure sensors and hydrocarbon detection equipment, is also installed on wellheads, cellars and pipeline infrastructure to detect leaks, shut-in production and alert operations personnel.
- Netherlands: This gas-producing asset has a robust LDAR program, with effectively 100% of accessible flanges and potential leak points screened annually using thermal imaging technology.
- Australia: This is an oil asset with no natural gas production infrastructure. Any associated gas is either utilized in on-platform processes to displace fuels we would have to bring from the mainland, such as diesel, or maintained within the process and reinjected into the formation it was produced from. While we do not complete a formal LDAR program for natural gas, any significant potential leak sources would be identified by our continuous gas detection monitoring system (line of sight and point source) or through on-platform crew visual inspections. Where required equipment is repaired and pressure/leak tested prior to return to service.
- United States: The USBU has a comprehensive LDAR program that includes initial and semi-annual monitoring for fugitive emissions using a thermal camera at all well sites that are subject to EPA and/or Wyoming air permit requirements. In addition to point source identification, Vermilion has permanently mounted monitoring equipment at our major facilities that checks for the presence of natural gas outside of the process on an ongoing basis.
- Germany: All producing oil and disposal wells are thoroughly checked at least twice per week. Wells that are not in production are checked monthly. In our operated gas assets, all well sites and facilities are checked five times per week. During these checks all accessible flange connections are visually inspected for leaks. Field and transportation pipelines in our operated oil assets are inspected once per week in populated areas and once per month in unpopulated areas. Pipeline routes in our operated gas assets are checked every two months by walking in populated areas, and twice per year in unpopulated areas in accordance with regulatory requirements. Oil and gas transportation pipelines are also helicopter-surveyed on a biweekly basis.
- Ireland: In the first year of operation a Differential Absorption LIDAR (DIAL) Survey was completed to survey for methane and VOC Emissions. No significant emissions were observed from the areas measured. OGI surveys are completed on Corrib on a bi-annual basis and cover approximately 80% of accessible leak points. All identified leaks are managed through the operations weeps and seeps repair program. To date 80% of all identified leaks are below the measurable leak detection rate for the High Flow Sampler.
For details on our emission reduction projects, click here.