Conserving the energy and greenhouse gases (GHGs) used to produce oil and gas can make a major contribution to moving the world onto a more sustainable energy path.
Often, the most economical method of reducing GHG emissions is to reduce energy consumed. This is because the easiest emissions to control are the ones never produced. For this reason, IPIECA works with the industry to help reduce emissions with sharing of good practices, tools and through providing opportunities for sharing knowledge.
IPIECA develops industry best practice and the promotion of technological and management solutions to reduce GHGs (for oil and gas this is mainly CO2 and methane) across the production, refining and transportation of oil and gas. For emissions from our operations, management largely means energy conservation or efficiency measures, reducing gas flaring and managing the emissions of methane.
The extraction and transformation of hydrocarbons is a significant energy consumer. Reducing energy losses, and thus energy costs, in refining, processing, transmission and distribution provides financial incentives for efficiency to companies, and reduces costs for consumers. The industry is investing heavily in new technologies and research, including energy efficient design of plants, advanced computer controls, advanced modelling of reservoirs to increase production efficiencies, new extraction and processing methods, and improved technologies for monitoring the efficiency of equipment in the field.
Oil production and refining operations generally use flaring (the burning of released gases) to prevent unplanned emissions into the atmosphere, and to protect equipment from dangerous levels of pressure. Venting (the releasing of gas into the atmosphere) is a less common practice - flaring is safer and achieves lower levels of GHG emissions.
The industry has made continuous reductions to the amount of natural gas that is flared. By working through a range of consortia, such as the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) partnership, industry is reducing the amount of “associated” gas that is flared. These improvements have been enabled by implementing local infrastructure and making facility. Creating and opening markets for the associated gas has also assisted. IPIECA members are also working with GGFR and local governments to build policies and mechanisms to promote infrastructure development, regulations, availability of finance and other factors critical to large-scale energy conservation.
Policymakers are increasingly focused on reducing methane, a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas. IPIECA's work on methane has included a short-lived climate forces workshop and report, and a methane fact sheet. We are also developing good practice materials to enable greater alignment of our industry on how to manage methane from our operations.
IPIECA produced the Methane glossary to support the industry and other stakeholders in the use of consistent terminology, and to improve confidence in understanding and managing methane emission sources to further improve performance in reducing methane emissions
In October 2020, IPIECA launched a joint project with OGCI and IOGP to develop a common set of recommended practices for methane emissions detection and quantification technologies, applicable to the upstream oil and gas industry, with a target publication date of mid-2021.
IPIECA and the Methane Guiding Principles
Helping reduce consumer's emissions
The industry also supports our consumers as they manage their energy usage and GHG emissions, for example through:
- working with motor vehicle manufacturers to create products that help increase engine performance
- supporting partnerships such as the Global Fuel Economy Initiative
- producing new advanced lubricants that reduce engine friction and increase fuel economy
- supporting consumer education to achieve more efficient energy use
- developing and using lower-carbon fuels
- exploring and developing new natural gas resources and technologies
- investing in low-carbon and alternative fuels and technologies, including carbon capture and storage
IPIECA's work on societal solutions including carbon capture and storage is discussed under A pathway to a low-emissions future.