How Oil and Gas Industry Uses Technology to Reduce Fugitive Methane Emission

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Methane is the primary constituent of natural gas, a valuable commodity, but also a potent greenhouse gas

High production levels are causing high levels of indirect emissions-also known as fugitive emissions. Fugitive emissions are unintentional leakages or discharges caused by process venting, evaporation loss, accidents or equipment failures. The emissions come from a wide variety of sources during the production, processing and transportation of oil and natural gas.

Oil and gas companies are implementing programs to reduce methane emissions. Accurately and efficiently identifying sources of emissions enables faster responses and reduces emissions. And according to a 2019 assessment, three-quarters of today’s methane emission from the oil and gas industry can be controlled by deploying known technical fixes.


There are two types of sensors:

  • Sampling sensors-These measure gases in the air directly. The sensor has to be close to the source of emission to detect it.
  • Standoff sensors- These are used to detect emissions from a distance.

These sensors can detect and quantify different gases at levels as low as parts per billion (ppb) and enable operators to quickly spot leaks from a safe distance. They play an important role in the efforts to reduce fugitive emissions.

Sensors can be connected to safety systems and can relay real-time readings and locations of leaks to control rooms.

Infrared Cameras

OGIs can be used as handheld devices, as strategically placed fixed mounts or onboard UAVs and fixed-wing planes.



24/7 Monitoring

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, (SCADA), is an example of remote control and monitoring systems used in the oil and gas industry. Once a leak is detected, the system can immediately signal the control room for immediate deployment of the repair crew. It also can close valves to minimize emissions.


On top of economic incentives, the industry also realizes that plugging methane leaks presents an opportunity for mitigating its environmental impact. Fugitive emissions are contributing to air pollution, climate changes and increased risks of accidents. These are just some measures the industry is taking to ensure safe and responsible operations. The goal is to improve the health and safety of workers and surrounding communities.



Former GIS Analyst in Oil and Gas industry turned Copywriter.

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Ally Fumo

Former GIS Analyst in Oil and Gas industry turned Copywriter.