Shell announces near-zero methane emissions target, receives environmentalist praise

Shell workers install methane detection equipment in Alberta. Image: Shell

Royal Dutch Shell is getting high marks from environmental groups for a new target announced this week to reduce its worldwide methane emissions intensity.

The company says it will use infrared cameras to scan for methane emissions, deploy advanced technology to repair leaks, and replace high-bleed pneumatically-operated controllers with low emission alternatives. The end result will be methane emissions intensity below 0.2 percent by 2025, the company says.

This target covers all oil and gas assets for which Shell is the operator.

“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, but it has a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere. That means reducing methane emissions brings immediate climate benefits, buying some time while we work out longer term solutions,” UN Environment Energy and Climate Branch head Mark Radka said in a statement.

“This commitment by Shell is encouraging in itself but also because of the signals it sends to the rest of the industry.”

In a separate statement, EDF + Business senior director Ben Ratner praised the “near-zero” target.

Shell is the third global producer this year to set a methane reduction goal, EDF + Business noted: BP announced its target in April and ExxonMobil in May.

“Shell’s industry-leading target makes clear that the race to near-zero methane emissions is on. Strong commitments like this suggest to investors, governments, and business partners alike that an operator is serious about its positioning in a cleaner energy economy,” Ratner said.

“Company leadership on methane does not stop with setting targets. Follow through with good data and transparency are vital – as is leadership in standing up for strong, sensible methane policy that can improve performance across the industry.”

Shell Integrated Gas & New Energies Director Maarten Wetselaar said that uncertainty with measuring methane emissions is an industry-wide issue and needs to be fixed fast.

We must get a much more accurate understanding of how much we are emitting,” he said.