In line with the fourth Methane Guiding Principle, this Oil and Gas Sector Toolkit supports policymakers as they develop sound policy and regulation to drive down oil and gas methane emissions. Fulfilling the Global Methane Pledge will require widespread implementation efforts, including policies aimed at reducing flaring, venting and fugitive emissions. This toolkit connects policymakers and regulators to key resources and institutions supporting these policy efforts.
This Toolkit outlines different partners, resources and case studies that are available to support government and industry actors in efforts to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. It provides a guide through the different tools and strategies available to policymakers and indicates which elements can be most useful across different goals and institutional circumstances.
The first content group is aimed at regulators looking for partners who can help with capacity building, technical knowledge or financing for abatement projects. It presents the different organizations working in this field in two major groups: international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supporting policy action and industry initiatives that promote best practices and advocate for sound regulation. This aims to provide policymakers and regulators with an overview of potential partners that can help them achieve their methane mitigation goals.
The second content group looks at the different resources available in this field. It provides the best available references to inform jurisdictions about ways to develop regulatory systems and methods to monitor and manage methane emissions. It also covers the different tools available to aid companies and regulators, as they seek to identify major sources of emissions and implement low cost abatement options.
The final content group presents case studies that demonstrate how improvements in methane management have been achieved in different contexts and provide insights for further action. These explore three key issues: how to develop an effective policy approach; which tools and strategies have been successfully deployed to monitor emissions; and what are some of the leading abatement technologies being deployed across different industry segments.
Reducing methane emissions from oil and gas operations is among the most cost-effective and impactful actions that governments can take to achieve global climate goals. We hope this Toolkit will be useful to countries seeking to reduce their methane footprint. It provides a clear picture of all key resources available so that regulators can capitalize on the international momentum as they work to develop effective frameworks to drive down emissions.
Methane is responsible for around 30% of the rise in global temperatures since the industrial revolution, and rapid and sustained reductions in methane emissions are key to limit near-term warming and improve air quality.
Two key characteristics determine the impact of different greenhouse gases on the climate: the length of time they remain in the atmosphere and their ability to absorb energy. Methane has a much shorter atmospheric lifetime than carbon dioxide (CO2) – around 12 years compared with centuries – but absorbs much more energy while it exists in the atmosphere. One tonne of methane is equivalent to about 29 metric tons of carbon dioxide considering its impact over 100 years and 82 metric tons over a 20-year time horizon.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), available methane abatement measures can simultaneously: reduce human-caused methane emissions by as much as 45%; improve air quality, thereby saving hundreds of thousands of lives; contribute to food security by preventing crop losses; and create jobs through mitigation efforts. A recent paper shows that a rapid, full-scale effort to reduce methane emissions from all human sources could avoid 0.25oC of additional global-mean warming by mid-century.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that the oil and gas sector accounts for over 20% of methane emissions from human activity. Tackling methane emissions in this sector represents one of the best near-term opportunities for limiting global warming because the pathways for reducing them are well known and often cost-effective. Considering natural gas prices seen in recent years, over 40% of emissions from oil and gas operations worldwide could be abated at no net cost as abatement measures cost less than the market value of the additional gas that would be captured. Considering recent elevated gas prices, almost all of the options to reduce emissions from oil and gas operations worldwide could be implemented at no net cost.
Better methane management, alongside the reduction of flaring, would also improve energy security. According to the World Bank, over 140 billion cubic meters of gas was flared in 2021. Tackling flaring, venting and fugitive emissions benefits the climate, ensures the safety of workers, improves air quality and increases energy security. While not a substitute for the imperative need to reach carbon dioxide neutrality, methane mitigation is an effective lever to limit future warming and associated damage to social and natural systems.
The Global Methane Pledge (GMP) was launched at COP26 in November 2021 to catalyze action to reduce methane emissions. Led by the United States and the European Union, the Pledge has nearly 120 country participants who together are responsible for about half of global oil and gas methane emissions.
By joining the GMP, countries commit to work together in order to collectively reduce all methane emissions from human activities by at least 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. Action in the oil and gas sector alone could take countries over halfway there.
By curtailing flaring and methane emissions, countries and companies could avoid 0.1oC of warming and quickly bring nearly 210 billion cubic meters of natural gas to global markets. In June 2022, the European Union, the United States and 11 countries launched the GMP Energy Pathway to catalyze methane emissions reductions in the oil and gas sector, advancing both climate progress and energy security. This pathway aims to encourage all nations to capture the maximum potential of cost-effective methane mitigation in the oil and gas sector and eliminate routine flaring as soon as possible, and no later than 2030.
The oil and gas sector presents a clear opportunity for early action because the pathways to reduce these emissions are well known and, in many cases, cost-effective. Together, companies in Methane Guiding Principles have operations across a large number of the countries that joined the GMP. Companies are close to the problem at hand, often have the required technical capabilities and can act quickly to improve methane management. Thus, Methane Guiding Principles members can play a leading role in driving rapid cuts and leading abatement efforts, while supporting policymakers in their journey to reduce emissions across the entire oil and gas industry.
The United States and the European Union have asked all GMP participants to develop or update a national methane reduction action plan. This Toolkit aims to assist countries in the development and implementation of such national action plans. It does so by providing a clear view of the different levers, strategies and resources governments can use to drive down emissions. Furthermore, it shows how oil and gas companies are supporting participant countries in meeting their pledge.