Royal Dutch Shell, better known simply as Shell, announced on Monday a target to reduce and maintain its methane emissions intensity for all its oil and gas assets below 0.02% by 2025 which will see the company implement a variety of programs.
Shell announced its new methane emissions intensity target on Monday, with Maarten Wetselaar, Shell’s Integrated Gas & New Energies Director, explaining that the uncertainty surrounding methane emissions remains “an industry-wide issue and we need to fix this fast.”
“This methane target complements Shell’s ambition to cut the Net Carbon Footprint of our energy products by around half by 2050, which we announced in November 2017,” said Wetselaar. “It is a further demonstration of our continued focus on tackling greenhouse gas emissions. Such efforts are a critical part of Shell’s strategy to thrive during the global energy transition by providing more and cleaner energy.”
Shell’s methane emissions target will be measured against a baseline Shell leak rate, which is currently estimated to range from 0.01% to 0.8% across the company’s oil and gas assets. In an effort to maintain its target of 0.02%, Shell will introduce a range of programs including using infrared cameras to scan for methane emissions, deploying advanced technology to repair leaks, and replacing high-bleed pneumatically-operated controllers with low emission alternatives.
Shell is also already involved in what it describes as “a broad range of initiatives” which focus on reducing the emissions intensity of methane throughout the full supply chain, including developing the Methane Guiding Principles in 2017, which have been signed by 16 companies and which focus on continually working to reduce methane emissions throughout the gas industry.
“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, but it has a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere,” said Mark Radka, Head of UN Environment’s Energy and Climate Branch. In fact, methane gas has a higher impact on global warming than carbon dioxide, though it is released in lower quantities. “That means reducing methane emissions brings immediate climate benefits, buying some time while we work out longer-term solutions. This commitment by Shell is encouraging in itself but also because of the signals it sends to the rest of the industry.”
Unsurprisingly, Shell isn’t being given much in the way of credit for its latest commitment. Charlie Kronick, Greenpeace UK senior program advisor, said: “Of course Shell should reduce leaks from its production, but it’s hardly worthy of praise when they ignore the elephant in the room. The only way to meet the Paris climate goals and avoid the worst impacts of climate change is to leave both oil and gas in the ground, reductions in accidental leaks aren’t going to cut it.”