CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Leading oil companies in the Permian Basin are working with a Colorado-based nonprofit environmental organization to better track emissions from the industry as it tries to curb pollution.
Shell Energy, ExxonMobil and Chevron are among those partnering with the Rocky Mountain Institute. They’ll be using a digital platform that will offer emissions data from satellites, aircraft and monitoring stations as well as industry reports.
The system — known as Climate Action Engine — is intended to help companies meet benchmarks for greenhouse gas emissions and invest more in targeted efforts to curb the effects of climate change, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.
“By bringing data, intelligence and people together onto one, single platform, (Rocky Mountain Institute) is enabling climate solutions for the oil and gas industry that work for the benefit of the climate, companies, countries and people,” said Taku Ide, who leads the institute’s efforts to reduce methane emissions.
Daniel Droog, vice president of energy transition at Chevron, said the company already has cut methane emissions by 85% in its onshore U.S. operations using data-driven initiatives over the last several years. He said the new system could help further that effort by using real-time information as operations continue.
Shell Vice President of U.S. Shales Frits Klap said the company was able to reduce flaring in the Permian by about 80% since 2017, crediting the reduction to new technologies such as the Climate Action Engine.
“Combining data and (artificial intelligence) on a single platform is an innovation that could enhance our methane emissions management and supports Shell’s ambition to become a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner,” Klap said.
Shell recently expanded its use of drones in the basin to increase its methane leak detection and repair program. It’s partnering with Baker Hughes through its technological initiative Avitas, embarking on a two-year program to inspect more than 500 sites from the air.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is targeting emissions from the industry. Her administration has been working on stricter regulations.
The effort began last year as oil production was on pace to break more records and the state was awash in revenue from the boom in the Permian Basin — one of the most prolific plays in the United States. However, the industry now is looking to recover following a historic drop in prices that was been exacerbated by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Environmentalists have said the proposed rules don’t go far enough, but the industry argues that a balance needs to be reached to allow for continued development.