Close-up-of-a-drone-checking-a-well-pad-for-methane-leaks.
Close-up-of-a-drone-checking-a-well-pad-for-methane-leaks.

In July 2020, SWEPI LP (Shell) reached an agreement with Avitas, a Baker Hughes venture, to expand the use of drones to enhance its existing methane leak detection and repair (LDAR) program in the Permian Basin.

Combatting methane emissions

At Shell, we place a high priority on combatting methane emissions linked to oil and gas production in the Permian Basin. We have taken actions to effectively reduce our emissions and have announced a target to keep methane emissions intensity for operated oil and gas assets below 0.2% by 2025.

Shell On-Shore Operating Principles in Action in North America: Methane Fact Sheet

Working on multiple fronts

We work on multiple fronts to find solutions that enable us to detect methane leaks better, faster, more efficiently and, in the future, potentially with quantification measurements. For example, since 2018, we have piloted the use of drones with methane detection cameras and sensors in the Permian Basin. We have also tested methane detection sensors in our Rocky Mountain House asset in Canada. Meanwhile, we serve as an adviser to The University of Texas Project ASTRA, which plans to establish a proof-of-concept network of methane detection sensors in the Permian Basin.

Enhancing our existing leak detection

Our two-year drone pilot program with Avitas focused on testing the technology and software platforms in a small number of installations and sites in the Permian. We will now deploy drones equipped with an optical gas imaging (OGI) camera and a laser-based detection system across our entire operating area in the Permian and conduct drone-based inspections across more than 500 sites, including approximately 150 sites which fall under the EPA’s Clean Air Act reporting.

More efficient detection and repair

Based on the data collected during the initial pilot program, drone-based cameras and sensors have the potential to enable more efficient detection and reporting of leaks in the Permian. Moreover, in the future, drones deployed in higher altitudes could enable detection over a larger area and an increased number of sites, providing further efficiency gains. This, in turn, will enable much quicker repair of leaks, reducing methane emissions and the related global warming impact.

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