Offshore Gas Giant QatarEnergy Signs On to Zero-Methane Pledge

File image courtesy Qatargas, a subsidiary of QatarEnergy

Published Jun 28, 2022 6:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

QatarEnergy, the world's largest LNG exporter as of May 2022, has joined an industry initiative to effectively eliminate methane leakage from its natural gas operations by 2030. 

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, about 80 times more powerful than CO2 over a 20-year timeline. Human-generated methane emissions are responsible for roughly one quarter of current warming. Processed natural gas is effectively methane, plus a few percentage points of heavier molecules; leaky gas processing equipment, pipelines and wells are a leading source of methane emissions. These releases undercut the climate-friendly appeal of natural gas, which is widely viewed as a less-harmful alternative to oil or coal. 

Different producers have much different methane leak rates. Norway's release rate from production is just half the global average, while Russia's is so high that the nation leads the world for overall methane emissions. The producers in the OGCI Aiming for Zero Methane Emissions Initiative all seek to effectively eliminate methane releases from their operations by the end of the decade, and the signatories are some of the biggest names in the business. The founding members include Saudi Aramco, bp, Chevron, CNPC, Eni, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Occidental,?Petrobras, Repsol, Shell and TotalEnergies. Their objective is to "treat methane emissions as seriously as the industry already treats safety."

QatarEnergy - which owns the third-largest natural gas reserves in the world and exports more LNG than any other entity - announced Monday that it would join the initiative. The pledge would cover the offshore platforms of its Qatargas subsidiary. 

"We are reaffirming Qatar’s priorities and commitments with regards to the climate change agenda, and its unwavering support to the global effort to reducing emissions, including methane," said His Excellency Saad Sherida al-Kaabi, Qatar's minister of energy and CEO of QatarEnergy.  

The news comes as the state-owned company invests billions in the capacity of its vast gas liquefaction terminals, with help from fellow signatory Eni. Just last week, QatarEnergy announced that it is selling Eni the quivalent of a three percent stake in its giant North Field East natural gas expansion project. North Field East will cost nearly $30 billion to bring online and should begin production in 2025, with ramp-up to 32 mtpa of output at full buildout.