Fugitive methane emissions from the oil and gas sector are typically addressed through periodic leak detection and repair surveys. These surveys, conducted manually using handheld leak detection technologies, are time-consuming. To improve the speed and cost-effectiveness of leak detection, technology developers are introducing innovative solutions using mobile platforms, close-range portable systems, and permanent installations. Many of these new approaches promise faster, cheaper, or more effective leak detection than conventional methods. However, ensuring mitigation targets are achieved requires demonstrating that alternative approaches are at least as effective in reducing emissions as current approaches – a concept known as emissions reduction equivalence. Here, we propose a five-stage framework for demonstrating equivalence that combines controlled testing, simulation modeling, and field trials. The framework was developed in consultation with operators, regulators, academics, solution providers, consultants, and non-profit groups from Canada and the U.S. We present the equivalence framework and discuss challenges to implementation.

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Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Fox, T.A. (Thomas A.), Ravikumar, A.P. (Arvind P.), Hugenholtz, C.H. (Chris H.), Zimmerle, D. (Daniel), Barchyn, T.E. (Thomas E.), Johnson, M.R, … Taylor, T. (Tim). (2019). A methane emissions reduction equivalence framework for alternative leak detection and repair programs. Elementa (Vol. 7). doi:10.1525/elementa.369