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Opportunities to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations

Nov 11, 2023

Oil & Gas Industry

By EnergyCC


EnergyCC is working to reduce wasted gas emissions from oil and gas operations.  It participated actively in COP26 and COP27 in collaboration with UNU-WIDER, to support the Global Methane Pledge. An overview of deliverables from publications, projects and events.



More than 60 countries have significant oil and gas production for the global or local economy; of which, 30+ low- and middle-income countries are highly dependent on oil and gas production. World Bank Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) finds that 54 oil producers have committed to end ‘routine flaring’, yet there is no global reduction in natural gas flaring since 2011 and a net increase in 2021. In 2022 it finds that after a decade of little progress, global gas flaring volumes fell by around 3% in 2022. "However, despite this welcome reduction, greater and sustained efforts are needed to end this wasteful and polluting practice, particularly given the increased concern regarding the amount of methane emitted during flaring”.

The annual gas sales value of the almost 7.5% gas wasted through unnecessary flaring and venting is US$ 100 billion per year. Better management - including improved policy and regulation, improves commercial returns and gives countries much needed capital when climate finance is once again in the spotlight. 

EnergyCC finds that reducing methane emissions creates benefits for UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Action is a win-win-win for oil and gas producing countries and their citizens.


Why is this important? 

Methane is the most powerful but short-lived climate pollutant. Rapidly reducing methane emissions gives significant near-term gains. It is the single most effective strategy to limit warming to 1.5˚C. The IEA finds that the quickest way to reduce methane emissions is from the global energy sector, which is responsible for 40% of methane emissions from human activity.   

UNU-WIDER peer-reviewed, published research quantifies in dollar terms the Social Cost of Atmospheric Release (SCAR) of eight chemical emissions from gas flaring, including methane, NOX, SOX and Black Carbon, on human health, agricultural yields and climate.

At a UNU-WIDER COP27 Webinar with Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High Level Champion for COP27 and EnergyCC. Dr. Mohieldin complemented a key message that reducing emissions creates benefits that extend well beyond climate, including for health and air quality.

The BBC reported in 2022 that the Minister of Environment for Iraq acknowledged that natural gas flaring pollution from oil production is the main reason for increases in cancer rates among local communities living close to oil fields. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-63284896   


EnergyCC focus is on solutions that exist today 

Our actions to reduce emissions combines four key elements applied in concert:

Independent measurement using satellites. Publicly available satellite data enable identification of the exact location of the emitters and how much they waste.  From this data, the cost in financial, economic, and social terms can be measured. In Nigeria, EnergyCC is working with the Regulators to demonstrate the benefits of using satellite technologies for oversight of both onshore and offshore super-emitter flares. Results were presented to the Vice President’s Office and at a ‘National Stakeholders Summit’. Feedback was widely positive.  Specific recommendations are included for Nigeria Regulators and policy makers. General observations are relevant for gas producing countries.  

Fiscal /regulatory measures. EnergyCC worked with the IMF to include its innovative fiscal proposals for cutting methane emissions into its staff guidance for mandatory consultations with 190 governments. This was successfully achieved (publications). We are now working with the IMF to include this methane technical advice into its consultations and its technical support for countries accessing the IMF’s new Resilience and Sustainability Trust.

Gas monetisation technologies. There is room for much expanded communication, given that technologies are already developed and available for application. EnergyCC presented solutions at a high-level invitation only UNU-WIDER COP27 event: ‘Gas monetization and fiscal measures for energy access and exports: Technologies exist today’. It was very well received among participants, including industry, multilateral development institutions, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, leading think tanks, expert research organisations and advisory NGOs. 

Transparency. There is an opportunity to prioritise action by developing an annual list of Global Top 200 super-emitters out of 10,000 flares globally. These Top 200 account for 35% of all gas flared from the oil and gas sector. By adding separate methane satellite data for these same gas flare locations, this enables a list of Top 200 flaring and venting ‘super-emitters’ which can achieve scale reduction in emissions and large opportunities for energy access / exports of natural gas.


Opportunities created by a Top 200 super-emitter list:

  • Investors - under increasing pressure to demonstrate that they are not investing in companies that are actively contributing to global emissions, can prioritise super-emitters for scale and speed. They have visibility of the risks and opportunities - if existing emitting assets were to emit less. Satellites record all gas flaring emitters and their emissions, and hence can contribute to increased transparency on companies’ emissions, including from third-party operated assets currently not reported.   
  • Companies - manage reputational risks associated with super-emitters; benchmark flaring performance; secure higher prices for responsibly produced hydrocarbons.
  • Governments – create economic benefit through application of gas monetisation solutions.
  • Climate - The IEA finds that reducing methane emissions from the global energy sector is among the ‘lowest of the low hanging fruit’.  


Publications / Working Papers / Events



Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Department of Climate and Environment: Cutting Methane Emissions Delivering results and an agenda to extend these more generally, September 2023

UNU-WIDER Development Conference, Oslo, Norway: Revving up revenue for development – the role of domestic resource mobilization, September 2023: Cutting Methane Emissions Partnership and Opportunities https://www.wider.unu.edu/sites/default/files/Events/PDF/Slides/ConfOslo2023-Kathryn-McPhail.pdf

UNU-WIDER Development Conference, Oslo, Norway: Revving up revenue for development – the role of domestic resource mobilization, September 2023:

UNU-WIDER In the media UNU-WIDER research on oil theft gains attention https://www.wider.unu.edu/media/unu-wider-research-oil-theft-gains-attention, July 2023

UK FCDO Nigeria Chair meeting for stakeholders (including IMF, World Bank, EU, UK): Gas flare and oil facility operational performance analysis using satellite data, June 2023 

Center for Global Development Blog: The IMF’s 2023 Climate Resolutions—A Modest Idea for a Quick Win on Methane, April 2023 https://www.cgdev.org/blog/imfs-2023-climate-resolutions-modest-idea-quick-win

UNU-WIDER Webinar: Corruption and Theft in the Global Oil and Gas Sector April 2023 https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/corruption-and-theft-global-oil-and-gas-sector

Nigeria NOSDRA meeting: The use of Satellite for tracking offshore Gas Flare emissions in the Oil and Gas Sector in Nigeria, April 2023

UK FCDO / Oxford Policy Management Ltd: Nigeria: an evaluation of trends and causes of natural gas wastage in five offshore super-emitter flares, March 2023

Monetary Authority of Singapore and the SEACEN Centre: Scaling up Sustainable Finance: Tackling emission reductions in Asia’s energy sector, March 2023

The Investor Forum Member meeting: Reducing emissions from natural gas flaring and venting: Risks and Opportunities, February 2023

Canada in Asia Conference: CEO Roundtable on environmental collaboration, Singapore, February 2023

Center for Global Development Blog: Launching the RST: Country Policies Must Adapt—and So Too Must IMF Conditionality, February 2023 https://www.cgdev.org/blog/launching-rst-country-policies-must-adapt-and-so-too-must-imf-conditionality



Romsom, E. and K. McPhail (2022). ‘Looking Ahead To Cop27—From Climate Pledges To Action: The Global Methane Pledge—Opportunities And Risks’. WIDER Working Paper 2022/131. Helsinki. https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/looking-ahead-cop27%E2%80%94-climate-pledges-action

UNU-WIDER Think WIDER Webinar Series: World Energy Looking ahead to COP27, October 2022 https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/world-energy-looking-ahead-cop27

International Monetary Fund Staff Climate Note: How to Cut Methane Emissions, October 2022 https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/staff-climate-notes/Issues/2022/10/28/How-to-Cut-Methane-Emissions-525188

UNU-WIDER Roundtable (invitation only): Looking ahead to COP27: from climate pledges to action, September 2022 https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/looking-ahead-cop27-climate-pledges-action

Nigeria NOSDRA National Stakeholders Summit: The use of Satellite for tracking Gas Flare emissions in the Oil and Gas Sector in Nigeria, September 2022

UK FCDO / Oxford Policy Management Ltd: Nigeria’s super-emitter flares: An evaluation of trends and causes of natural gas wastage: reducing emissions and improving human health, August 2022

Nigeria NOSDRA Workshop: Opportunities to reduce flared gas in Nigeria, June 2022

Center for Global Development Note: To Flourish or Fizzle? How to Make Sure the IMF’s New Trust Doesn’t Miss Its Golden (and Green) Opportunity, March 2022 https://www.cgdev.org/publication/flourish-or-fizzle-how-make-sure-imfs-new-trust-doesnt-miss-its-golden-and-green

Romsom, E. (2022). ‘Global Oil Theft: Impact And Policy Responses’. WIDER Working Paper 2022/16. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/global-oil-theft-impact-and-policy-responses

Romsom, E. (2022). ‘Countering Global Oil Theft: Responses And Solutions’. WIDER Working Paper 2022/35. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/countering-global-oil-theft-responses-and-solutions 

Center for Global Development Blog / Note: A Practical Proposal on Methane for 2022: From Climate Pledges to Action, February 2022  https://www.cgdev.org/blog/practical-proposal-methane-2022-climate-pledges-action and https://www.cgdev.org/publication/practical-proposal-methane-2022-climate-pledges-action



UNU-WIDER Blog: Reducing wasted gas emissions is an opportunity for clean air and climate, October 2021 https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/reducing-wasted-gas-emissions-opportunity-clean-air-and-climate

Oxford Policy Management Blog: Gas and Oil industry emissions – what can be done right now? October 2021 https://www.opml.co.uk/blog/gas-oil-emissions-what-could-be-done-now

UNU-WIDER Roundtable: COP26 Are we Ready? Capturing economic and social value for developing countries, October 2021 https://www.wider.unu.edu/event/cop26-are-we-ready 

Center for Global Development Note: Taking the Lead: Rechanneling SDRs to Create and Leverage a New Global Resilience Trust at the IMF, September 2021 https://www.cgdev.org/publication/practical-proposal-methane-2022-climate-pledges-action

 Romsom, E. and K. McPhail (2021). ‘Capturing Economic And Social Value From Hydrocarbon Gas Flaring And Venting: Solutions And Actions’. WIDER Working Paper 2021/6. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/capturing-economic-and-social-value-hydrocarbon-gas-flaring-and-venting-solutions-and 

Romsom, E. and K. McPhail (2021). ‘Capturing Economic And Social Value From Hydrocarbon Gas Flaring And Venting: Evaluation Of The Issues’. WIDER Working Paper 2021/5. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/capturing-economic-and-social-value-hydrocarbon-gas-flaring-and-venting-evaluation



Romsom, E. and K. McPhail (2020). ‘The Energy Transition In Asia: The Role Of Liquefied Natural Gas And Implications For East African Producers’. WIDER Working Paper 2020/80. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/energy-transition-asia-0

Romsom, E. and K. McPhail (2020). ‘The Energy Transition In Asia: Country Priorities, Fuel Types, And Energy Decisions’. WIDER Working Paper 2020/48. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER. https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/energy-transition-asia

Center for Strategic and International Studies Workshop: Gujarat State Energy Transition Priorities

Center for Global Development Policy Paper 182. Alexander Lehmann, 2020. “Private Sector Climate Finance After the Crisis.” Washington, DC: Center for Global Development.  https://www.cgdev.org/publication/private-sector-climate-finance-after-crisis  

Assessing the economic fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic for oil, natural gas and LNG, EnergyCC blog. https://energycc.com/blogs/covid-19impact.html

Envision seminar: The IoT Era/The Future is Now Envision, 20 April 2018; .https://energycc.com/blogs/seminar-the-iot-era-the-future-is-now-envision.html

World Bank Group Asia Gas Workshop: Pathways to Cleaner Air and Net Zero Emissions, Singapore. https://energycc.com/blogs/asia-gas-workshop-pathways-to-cleaner-air-and-net-zero-emissions.html

McPhail, K. (2017). ‘Enhancing Sustainable Development from Oil, Gas, And Mining: From An ‘All Of Government’ Approach To Partnerships For Development’. WIDER Working Paper 2017/120 Helsinki. https://www.wider.unu.edu/publication/enhancing-sustainable-development-oil-gas-and-mining 

British Chamber of Commerce panel discussion moderator: New Energy Realities - Changing Strategy and Operating Models, Singapore, 22 September 2017. https://youtu.be/y_m4Zc31VoU

Seeding a Hydrogen Market using learnings from LNG as fuel, EnergyCC blog, 29 September 2017; .https://energycc.com/blogs/seeding-a-hydrogen-market-using-learnings-from-lng-as-fuel.html

Business Opportunities from Marine Fuel Efficiency, EnergyCC blog, 4 October 2017; https://energycc.com/blogs/business-opportunities-from-marine-fuel-efficiency.html

EnergyCC Supporting Organisation of Asia Clean Energy Summit (ACES), part of Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW), 24-25 October 2017. https://energycc.com/blogs/key-messages-and-observations-on-the-asia-clean-energy-summit-aces.html


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