One of the questions we are asked a lot is “who are your competitors?” We are the only company to own and operate high-resolution satellites that monitor for methane emissions. Therefore we don’t have any direct competitors but there are many companies that offer alternative methane monitoring technologies. So, which system is better?
The answer is actually quite simple.
Most of the other technologies available to monitor for emissions are complementary to our offerings. In the oil and gas industry, there is a growing consensus that while no single solution is the silver bullet to finding all fugitive emissions cost-effectively, the combination of several technologies can form a powerful set of tools to find and stop methane leaks quickly and affordably.
Complementarity: When someone’s limitation happens to be your strength
Satellites offer unique economies of scale – each satellite can see any facility in the world, on average every two weeks, without any deployment costs. Satellites also offer consistency and transparency – they can see the entire planet frequently and compare emissions in one region of the world to another seamlessly, using the same sensor.
Satellites are particularly well suited to monitoring sites frequently to detect larger leaks quickly and to measure emissions from large-area sources. On the other hand, they are not ideally suited for monitoring small leaks across the oil and gas value chain.
Optical gas imaging (OGI) surveys are an excellent way to detect small leaks and are very comprehensive. However, they are very costly and time-consuming, requiring personnel to visit each facility and use specialized and expensive equipment which can’t quantify the magnitude of the leak. Some of the facilities are in areas that are difficult or dangerous to access, increasing the risk of potential health and safety concerns. As a result, comprehensive OGI surveys are therefore only performed a handful of times per year, it at all.
Drones are another option, but in most jurisdictions, they require line of sight with the pilot for safety concerns. Manned aircraft surveys are another airborne solution which makes it possible to monitor a large number of sources remotely and at a higher resolution than satellites. However, the deployment of an aircraft with a sensor onboard, especially on a regular basis, is a costly proposition. When frequent, low-cost satellite surveys are combined with less frequent and more expensive aircraft/drone and OGI surveys, it becomes possible to detect nearly 100% of leaks at the lowest possible cost to the operator.
The combination of these technologies forms the basis for tiered monitoring.
GHGSat Tiered Monitoring
GHGSat’s tiered monitoring offering is unique for several reasons. First, our satellites generate data on emissions from facilities anywhere in the world. We are also soon launching our own aircraft sensor, which will make GHGSat the only company with space and airborne segments using the same sensor. Finally, GHGSat also augments and optimizes its own operations with proprietary analytics combining information from third-party sources like flaring data, production rates and information from other satellites. Combining this integrated service with a single OGI survey per year can meet the most stringent regulatory requirements, at a significantly lower cost than performing three OGI survey per year. Demonstrating this is the subject of GHGSat’s recently announced SDTC project (read more here).