Dutch oil and gas industry halves offshore methane emissions
The article below is translated from the Dutch article on Onsaardgas.nl, read it here.
The Dutch oil and gas sector has succeeded in halving its offshore methane emissions and complying to the covenant signed with the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate back in 2019. The latest progress report of the methane offshore reduction program, coordinated by branch organization NOGEPA and led by MACH10, shows that the reduction of methane emissions on the last day of 2020 reached 4,792 tons per year. Compared to the starting point in 2017 when the yearly emission was 9,352 tons, this means the methane emissions from the activities at sea were 51% lower than in 2017. The effects of measures from the fourth quarter will continue to affect – the ultimate emission reduction is expected to be between 55% and 60%.
In 2018, the Dutch oil and gas industry took the initiative for a methane reduction program. In 2019, it was agreed in a covenant with the then Minister of Economic Affairs that the sector would halve its methane emissions, a greenhouse gas, by the end of 2020. The industry has now more than achieved this goal.
Jo Peters, NOGEPA Secretary General: “Natural gas will remain an important part of our energy mix during the energy transition. Gas extracted in the Netherlands is preferable to imported gas due to the much lower climate footprint compared to imported natural gas. As long as we have natural gas reserves (apart from Groningen) and there is a gas demand, the sector will ensure that gas production takes place in the safest and most responsible way possible. This means that we are always looking for ways to further improve our performance. This achievement is the result of an intensively collaborating sector with a great deal of technical knowledge and with a focus on the objectives of the Climate Agreement. ”
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Future emission reductions
In addition to halving methane emissions, operators are now also investigating measures to further reduce CO2 emissions. The aim is to optimize the entire system of gas production, treatment and transport. Electrifying oil and gas installations is an important option to reduce CO2 emissions. In the covenant with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, it has been agreed to investigate how the preconditions for electrification can be fulfilled. The new Energy Act will then have to make it possible, for example, that electricity generated at sea can also be purchased at sea. Electrification of oil and gas installations has a number of advantages. CO2 emissions are greatly reduced; The natural gas that is currently being burned offshore for energy production can be transported to land for delivery to Dutch customers. Moreover, electrification is needed to use these installations for the storage of CO2 and for the production and transport of hydrogen produced at sea in the future, after gas production has ended.
In 2017, total greenhouse gas emissions in the Netherlands amounted to 193.7 million tons of CO2eq. Methane emissions, part of the greenhouse gas emissions, amounted to 720 thousand tons in 2017. Converted to CO2 equivalents, this is 18 million tons, or 9.3% of the total greenhouse gas emissions; for the whole of the Netherlands. The emissions of the entire gas chain (exploration, production, transport and distribution) in the same year were 22 thousand tons of methane (0.55 million tons of CO2eq). The gas sector is therefore responsible for 3% of all Dutch methane emissions, which is about 0.33% of all greenhouse gas emissions (CO2eq) in the Netherlands. Despite the modest magnitude of these emissions, the Dutch oil and gas sector wants to make its contribution to limiting climate change. During the implementation of the covenant, it turned out that the methane emissions in the reference year 2017 were higher than originally reported. In order to get the agreements out of the covenant, the industry had to reduce 9% more. Successfully. At the end of 2020, methane emissions were 4,792 tons lower than in 2017. In CO2 equivalents, this equates to a reduction in emissions of 120,000 tons of CO2. NOGEPA published an improved protocol for the determination and reporting of methane emissions in 2018. All operators use this protocol – coordinated with State Supervision of Mines. In 2018, TNO carried out an offshore measurement program to verify whether the emissions stated by the operators on the basis of this protocol correspond to measurements at sea; this proved to be convincingly the case.
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What measures have been taken
When selecting reduction measures, we looked at which techniques could achieve the greatest emission reductions. Cost-effectiveness, among other things, were considered, how to save as efficiently as possible as much as possible. Important measures in the reduction program are the reuse of process gas for energy generation, the recycling of residual gases into the production process and a targeted approach for replacing leaking (safety) valves. Numerous operational measures have also been taken. All these measures have optimized the gas treatment and compression process on numerous offshore installations.The European Commission published an initiative to reduce methane in the energy sector in October 2020. The Dutch oil and gas sector has shared the knowledge and experience gained in the implementation of the reduction program with the Commission. The sector also regularly sought coordination with the regulator (State Supervision of Mines), the competent authority (the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate) and climate organizations (including the Environmental Defense Fund).
About MACH10’s emission reduction programs
MACH10 led the methane emission reduction program for NOGEPA. MACH10 previously performed a NOx and a Benzene reduction program for the Dutch offshore and has now continued the collaboration with NOGEPA with a CO2 reduction program. Read more about our emission reduction programs at www.mach10ltd.com/services