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Take Action: How to Prepare for Methane Eyes in the Sky

Marketing Director

Today, satellite global initiatives are tasked with mapping the earth in pursuit of a singular objective – identifying methane in the atmosphere and pinpointing the source responsible.  This is a new reality, and it’s garnering momentum.

The urgency of mitigating methane in the atmosphere is evident, as it is a major contributor to potent heat-trapping greenhouse gases, possessing 84 times the warming potency of CO2 over a decade.  To address this global concern, a coalition of regulators, academics, and environmental advocates has united to systematically identify scientifically grounded approaches for swiftly and accurately identifying, quantifying, and reporting methane emissions on a wide scale.  These emissions stem from four main sources: biogenic, arising from oxygen-deprived microbial conditions like wetlands and landfills; pyrogenic, linked to wildfires; enteric, originating from digestive processes in livestock; and thermogenic, such as extracting oil and gas from the ground.  Given its presence throughout natural gas production stages, with methane being a dominant component, it is a pivotal opportunity for substantial impact within the oil and gas sector.

The consensus is the single fastest opportunity to slow down the rate of warming is becoming more responsible in energy production.  We have the technologies available to monitor, measure, and mitigate methane emissions.  Needed now more than ever is accountability, collaboration, and action.  To measure progress, we need to know how much methane is in the air, where the methane is coming from, and by whom.  This is where the concept of deploying “methane eyes in the sky” has emerged as a significant endeavor to gather data on methane concentrations in the atmosphere.

Satellite-based initiatives: We first learned of the future of satellite evolution of data collection from a project NASA conducted in 2017, NASA Carbon Monitoring System (CMS).  The project goal was to enhance the integrated Carbon Monitoring System, including Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MVR).  The initial set of satellite projects highlighted in an abstract led by the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory lists GOSAT (2009 – present), TROPOMI (2017 launch), and geoCARB.   Others include planet.  offering visibility into satellite data captured.  Carbon Mapper, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, began in 2023 with a 30-meter per pixel product, capable of measuring 50 – 100/kg per hour, with 24-hour latency between collection and delivery.  The plausibility of using satellites gained support and created a market for others to commercialize and commoditize satellite applications.  Amidst the multitude of satellite initiatives underway, one demands our attention, MethaneSAT, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Environmental Defense Fund.

MethaneSAT is preparing to launch the most advanced methane-tracking satellite in January 2024.  This $90M project is being funded and built by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund.  Ahead of the 2024 launch of the methane-tracking satellite, they will deploy a jet aircraft equipped with imaging spectrometers to catalog North American onshore production sites, dubbing this mission MethaneAIR.  Collectively, the data captured will inform the overall methane-tracking objective.  In a recent project update on this initiative, MethaneSAT states both aircraft and satellite data will be available at no cost and accessible from their new data platform as early as the fall of 2024.  Any interested party can and will have access to the reported data at any given time.  These parties include regulators, policymakers, academia, researchers, investors, insurance companies, journalists, and technological innovators.

Sharing this open data aims to prompt responsible action at the operator level, expediting progress toward more sustainable oil & gas production and a healthier and more vital planet.

What does this mean for energy producers? The threat is real.  There is a greater sense of urgency to evaluate and audit operations and machine health across all North American production sites.  Now is the time to make those needed repairs and check known emitter sources and structures.  Regulators have approved The Inflation Reduction Act, which grants authorities to penalize emissions violators with a Waste Emission Charge.  The waste emissions charge starts at $900 per metric ton for emissions reported in 2024, increasing to $1,200 for 2025 emissions and $1,500 for emissions years 2026-on.  These fines are meant to be punitive to drive action down to the site level.  Energy producers must be fully aware of methane incidents and have a proactive plan to address leaks before aerial surveillance detects and reports the events.

Mitigating risks:  As we evolve and understand the facets of methane emissions, we are witnessing technology and innovation answer the call to the problem.  Mitigating risks with early detection, preventative maintenance, and regulatory compliance involves comprehensive methods.  Many are at work to solve the issue, which often results in piecemeal approaches, which can be costly, confusing, and not scalable—leaving operators exposed.  Industry leaders and investors have been searching for a solution.  Stakeholders have agreed that a continuous methane monitoring system is an effective tool for mitigating operational risks.  What if you can 24×7 monitor just about all of your assets for a low-cost all-inclusive service?

A solution breakthrough: Paradigm takes a refreshingly simple, differentiated approach.  Paradigm launched an all-inclusive end-to-end IoT Solution-as-a-Service (SaaS) for continuous methane monitoring.  This solution allows for a front line of defense to aerial flyovers and optimizes efficient operations.  The all-inclusive solution is designed as a turnkey service, allowing for immediate implementation at scale for upstream and midstream customers.

The service offers unparalleled benefits and features:

  • Holistic systems engineering approach to the problem
  • At-scale, low cost
  • Simple, zero-disruption operational model
  • Trust and transparency via academia-led single-blind tests
  • Underwritten by industry-leading Service Level Agreement (SLA)

The full description can be found on our Solutions page.

Paradigm’s IoT Solution-as-a-Service (SaaS) sets a new standard for continuous methane monitoring and plays a vital role in emissions management programs.  The solution empowers industries to positively impact the environment while maximizing operational efficiency.  We’re here for you.  Let us help transform your operations by monitoring more accurately, managing better, and controlling more efficiently.

—Updated March 4, 2024 —

MethaneSAT was launched into space on March 4, 2024. As previously reported, the Environmental Defense Fund and MethaneSAT, have added Google to their partnership in mapping Earth for methane emitters.  The world watched as SpaceX launched the MethaneSAT into orbit on the Falcon9 Mission. Follow the live updates on EDF’s Vital Signs.

As of 8:12 PM PT, MethaneSAT is in orbit. The satellite is expected to travel from pole to pole in under 100 minutes, scanning for climate pollution and its sources.

One proven approach to avoid being caught in the snapshots of the “Methane Eyes in the Sky” is to have a basin-scale continuous methane monitoring solution in place. An energy producer’s assets remain monitored, secured, and stand-ready for event alarms with a reliable solution. Paradigm’s M-Series™ is helping energy producers today optimize operations with peace of mind.

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