ExxonMobil said Monday that it has agreed to work with Scepter, Inc. to deploy advanced satellite technology and proprietary data processing platforms to detect methane emissions at a global scale. The agreement has the potential to redefine methane detection and mitigation efforts and could contribute to broader satellite-based emission reduction efforts across a dozen industries, including energy, agriculture, manufacturing and transportation.
“This collaboration will enable multiple industries to identify the sources of methane emissions around the world in real-time, so that leak repairs or mitigation solutions can be deployed rapidly,” said Bart Cahir, senior vice president of unconventional at ExxonMobil. “This is another example of how ExxonMobil is investing in technology with leading innovators to align with the Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030, compared to 2020 levels.”
In the first phase of the project, the companies will design and optimize the plan for satellite placement and coverage, initially focused on capturing methane emissions data from ExxonMobil operations in the Permian Basin. Scepter will deploy satellites in 2023 and increase coverage to more than 24 satellites over three years, forming a large constellation network capable of monitoring operations around the world.
Scepter’s satellite detection technology has shown the ability to accurately collect data on methane, while also identifying sources of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and other greenhouse gases.
ExxonMobil and Scepter are also pioneering a proprietary data fusion system that reconciles information collected from multiple detection methods, including ground-based, stationary and mobile monitoring devices. By consolidating the data, scientists could unlock valuable insights and opportunities to further quantify and validate programs that reduce methane emissions.
“We’re excited to work with ExxonMobil to develop a system that goes beyond methane detection. Our data fusion platform will be central to a broader capability to detect, quantify, abate and certify,” said Philip Father, chief executive officer of Scepter. “This approach is rooted in our mission of providing comprehensive observations on a real-time basis and global scale, therefore meeting various environmental, social and governance reporting needs.”
When combined with ExxonMobil’s data from ground-based sensors and aerial surveys using advanced analytics, Scepter’s data platform allows the company to further establish information regarding its methane emissions performance on an unprecedented scale and quickly identify high-emitting sources. The data processing platform will enable the expansion of third-party certification and supplement methane emissions-reductions efforts.
ExxonMobil said it supports the development of satellite surveillance and is conducting field trials of emerging technologies. The company is also taking part in an industry study with the Collaboratory to Advance Methane Science to expand ongoing initiatives to identify smarter and faster ways to detect and mitigate emissions using satellites.
The company recently announced plans to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from its operated assets in the U.S. Permian Basin by 2030. These efforts include several key focus areas including continued investments in methane monitoring and detection technologies and eliminating routine flaring in the company’s Permian Basin operations by year-end 2022, in support of the World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring initiative.