TotalEnergies to use drones to detect methane emissions

Paris, FRANCE – We know we have been harping on for a long time about how drone technology is important as an implement for the oil and gas industry without really covering any meaningful use cases.

Well; that ends today.

Multi-national energy company TotalEnergies has launched a worldwide drone-based emissions detection and quantification campaign across all its upstream Oil & Gas operated sites.

According to the company, the campaign uses Airborne Ultralight Spectrometer for Environmental Applications (AUSEA) technology – developed by TotalEnergies, the French National Research Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and University of Reims Champagne Ardenne – in its bid to identify, quantify and reduce methane emissions linked to its operations.

In the works since 2017, AUSEA consists of a miniature dual sensor mounted on a drone, capable of detecting methane and carbon dioxide emissions, while at the same time identifying their source.  The technology can take measurements at all types of industrial facilities, whether onshore or offshore.

It supplements measurements taken using traditional techniques such as infrared cameras, ground sensors and satellite.

“After being successfully tested at sites in Nigeria, Italy, the Republic of the Congo and the Netherlands, AUSEA technology is being rolled out this year at all upstream Oil & Gas sites operated by TotalEnergies,” the company said in a statement.

“The campaign began in early March for African offshore sites, has now been launched in South America and will reach Europe this summer. It is an important step towards achieving a reduction of 50 percent in methane emissions at Company operated sites by 2025 and of 80 percent by 2030 (targets in relation to 2020).”

The company added that the AUSEA technology was being further developed to move from manual to autonomous systems of operation, in order to increase the frequency of methane emission measurements.

Plans are also afoot to extend operations to the company’s other sites, particularly refineries.

“TotalEnergies is committed to moving towards Zero Methane,” said Namita Shah, President, OneTech of TotalEnergies.  “Considered to be currently the most accurate technology in the world to detect and measure methane emissions, AUSEA will help us to refine our emissions calculations, and to take stronger measures to reduce our emissions even further in order to achieve the targets we have set.”

A signatory of the Methane Guiding Principles, TotalEnergies says it has already halved its methane emissions at its operated sites between 2010 and 2020 by targeting all sources (reductions in flaring, venting, fugitive emissions, etc.) and introducing stricter design criteria for new facilities.

The Company is also enhancing its reporting as part of OGMP 2.0, the second phase of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Oil & Gas Methane Partnership.

OGMP 2.0 outlines a reporting framework that encompasses the entire gas value chain and non-operated scope, including a breakdown of emissions by source, information on inventory methodologies and the use of airborne measurement campaigns.


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