February 2022, Vol. 249, No. 2


Neptune Energy, EDF Complete First-of-Its-Kind Methane Study in UK

Special to P&GJ 

Neptune Energy completed a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to measure methane emissions on a working UK offshore platform using advanced drone technologies.  

A drone in use at the Cygnus gas production facility.
A drone in use at the Cygnus gas production facility.


Fixed-wing and rotary drones equipped with methane-sensing equipment were deployed for the study on the Neptune-operated Cygnus gas production facility in the U.K. Southern North Sea, to assess advanced methods for identifying and quantifying facility-level offshore methane emissions, and actions to reduce them.   

Results of the study will be published in a scientific peer-reviewed paper in 2022. A key objective was to establish an accurate, scientific benchmark for measuring total methane emissions within an offshore environment to help develop best-practice approaches for the wider upstream industry.  

Tackling methane was a key topic of discussion at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) event in Glasgow, with an increasing focus on how the oil and gas industry can use existing technologies to reduce operational emissions of the potent greenhouse gas.  

“The abatement of methane emissions will be crucial in meeting the Paris Agreement goals, and given the short lifespan of methane emissions, we know that taking meaningful action today can bring positive results in as little as nine years,” said Neptune’s VP of Operations in Europe Pete Jones. “Neptune already has one of the lowest methane intensities in the sector, at 0.01%, compared with the industry average of 0.23%, and has set a target of net-zero methane emissions by 2030.”  

EDF scientists coordinated the five-day study, which involved a team from U.K.-based drone platform provider, Texo DSI, operating a rotary drone provided by Scientific Aviation. Equipped with sensing technology, the drone measured emissions at multiple locations around the platform.  

Separately, an unmanned fixed-wing drone carrying methane measuring and analytics technology provided by SeekOps was flown from Weybourne Airfield in Norfolk to the Cygnus platform. Operated by Flylogix, the aircraft circled the facility, starting at a point above the platform and reducing incrementally to just above sea level, recording the total volume of emissions. Covering a total of more than 313 miles (504 km), the operation is believed to be one of the longest of its kind to be carried out in the UK North Sea.  

“The study demonstrates how the best of new technology can be harnessed and deployed to tackle the challenge of reducing methane emissions,” Flylogix Executive Chairman Charles Tavner said. “Using a long-range, fixed-wing unmanned system mobilized from the shore provides accurate measurement and quantification and reduces the cost, risks and environmental impacts associated with taking people offshore.”  

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