EU, UN-led pact commits oil and gas firms to tackle methane emissions

LONDON (Reuters) - Dozens of oil and gas companies on Monday committed to report more accurately on and, ultimately, reduce emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane which is liable to leak from oilfields and pipelines.

Oil majors such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Eni, Equinor and Total have signed up for the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP) under the umbrella of the United Nations, the European Union and non-governmental organisation (NGO) the Environmental Defense Fund.

Methane has over 80 times the heat trapping potential of carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere and recent analysis of satellite data suggests leaks from the oil and gas sector are much bigger than initially thought.

The new standard aims to deliver a 45 per cent reduction in the industry’s methane emissions by 2025, and a 60-75 per cent reduction by 2030.

While OGMP says its 62 members represent 30% of the world’s oil and gas production, U.S. oil and gas majors such as Chevron and Exxon are not involved. Nor are any Russian producers nor any national oil companies apart from the United Arab Emirate’s Adnoc.

The OGMP comes on top of individual corporate pledges to reduce methane leaks, and the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) which is overseen by the firms themselves and includes U.S. majors and some national oil companies. It has also set a target of reducing methane intensity to 0.25% by 2025 across its members’ operations.

The OGMP says it differs from other initiatives in that it requires members to report methane emissions at an asset level, rather than across the whole company, and in that it covers facilities in joint ventures, even if the operator of such sites has not subscribed to OGMP.

It puts more pressure on oil and gas producers to actually measure methane leaks, rather than extrapolate from engineering calculations, and also covers a company’s whole supply chain - crucial for methane-heavy commodities like gas, which often travels hundreds of kilometres through complex infrastructure.

The OGMP will publish a annual public report on companies’ performance against targets, said Manfredi Caltagirone, energy and climate manager at the UN environment programme.

The EU, the world’s biggest gas import market which gets most of its gas from Russia, is currently revamping its own methane regulations.

Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Kirsten Donovan