Project Details

  • Client: Total Energies
  • Category: Methane Emission Measurement
  • Date: 2020 – ongoing
  • Delivery of safe unmanned flight in non-segregated airspace pre-approved by CAA
  • Facilitating realtime transfer of data to inform and enable fast action

  • 250 kilometre UAV flights 

Flylogix has worked with six major energy companies to measure methane emissions in the North Sea.

In the 1st of a series of case studies, Kris Kydd, Robotics Lead, and Megan Kidd, UK Environmental Lead at TotalEnergies give their perspective on this pioneering project and explain how working in partnership with Flylogix, SeekOps, the Net Zero Technology Centre and other operators has created a blueprint towards meeting the Global Methane Pledge. 

Flylogix and TotalEnergies: getting the measure of methane

Measuring methane emissions from offshore assets has, until now, been difficult, expensive, unreliable and – in itself – a source of high carbon emissions, depending as it often does on manned vehicle flights.

Chris Adams of Flylogix says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure. To effectively manage and reduce emissions, you need a detailed and reliable picture of what is happening.”

The advent of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) opened up the possibility of measuring methane emissions with minimal disruption to the asset and with minimal personnel, at offshore facilities.

Generally, methane emissions from sources such as fugitives, combustion and flaring have been measured by ‘bottom-up’ calculations and estimations. This system means emissions can also be measured from the ‘top down’ for a more precise picture.

Kris Kydd, Robotics Lead, TotalEnergies “I’ve been involved with robotics at TotalEnergies for eight years, and I’ve never seen a project that has gone quite so quickly from R&D into generating operational value. The openness and the transparency of the group, with everyone sharing lessons learned, has been really important for the success of the project.”

“Receiving the methane data is something our environmental team are very keen to capture so they can get a better understanding of the emissions, but our first project with NZTC and Flylogix was to test that the UAV could actually fly the necessary distance.”

“That then evolved into testing the communications systems, and proving that it could fly safely in non-segregated airspace, meaning we don’t have to submit lengthy applications to the Civil Aviation Authority for Temporary Danger Areas.”

“If I look at it through the lens of robotics, as opposed to the perspective of measurement, what I’ve really enjoyed about deploying this technology is that it’s ‘beyond visual line of sight’.”

“We can check all the fail-safes in advance and operate everything from onshore, so we’re not having to be invasive and use up offshore resource. For example, ahead of one of the flights we had a safety issue, but we were able to diagnose and rectify it from the controlled environment of the airfield before sending the UAV offshore. From a safety point of view that was massive, and it’s going to be a real enabler for remote operations going forward, which is something we’re all trying to get to.”

“Another huge advantage is that it facilitates real-time transfer of data. I want the environmental team to have that data as soon as it’s been captured, so that if there’s any remedial action needed, they can plan that in as quickly as possible after the actual flight and recordings.

“It’s been really refreshing working with Flylogix. I like to get an understanding of a system so that I can explain it, and not have to be fully reliant on the vendor. Flylogix have let me be fully part of their flight operations and been really open with me. I’ve been to their ground-control station and seen, the diligence and the checks that are undertaken before performing the flights. The level of professionalism that Flylogix have, they do things at such pace, and for me it’s fantastic to be a part of. I really believe in the technology, because I understand it and because I’ve seen it work.”

The fact that we’re flying a UAV 250 kilometres, onshore to offshore, that’s a massive deal. I flew to the same offshore platform in June by helicopter for another scope, and it was only then I really appreciated what we had achieved.

Kris KyddRobotics Lead, TotalEnergies

“The fact that we’re flying a UAV 250 kilometres, onshore to offshore, that’s a massive deal. I flew to the same offshore platform in June by helicopter for another scope, and it was only then I really appreciated what we had achieved.”

“The project as a whole served as a very good example of collaboration. I think there’s an appetite to continue with that collaborative process. At the NZTC wrap-up, we discussed that what we need is for NZTC to play the ‘governance’ role so that we’re all reconvening to share lessons learned.”

Megan Kidd, Environmental Lead, TotalEnergies “The main principles of the OGMP (Oil and Gas Methane Partnership Initiative) are to set the basis for a more ambitious and transparent methane reporting framework and, ultimately, reduction.”

“TotalEnergies are members of the OGMP, and as a business we’ve committed to meeting the gold standard of reporting, part of which requires companies to use measurement techniques to measure methane emissions at source-level and site-level.”

“As an industry, due to a lack of actual data we’ve used combinations of calculations and estimations to quantify our methane emissions. So what we’re aiming for as part of the OGMP is to move to a much higher level of reporting by moving away from using calculated data and quantifying actual methane sources right down to a site level”.

“The use of the Flylogix UAV technology was a large step for us as a business to measure methane at site level. That provided us with a methane ‘envelope’ measurement to understand our actual site methane emissions.”

This is a great step forward towards meeting our company targets for methane quantification and reduction.

Megan KiddEnvironmental Lead, TotalEnergies

“The initial flight provided us with real-time data and a report detailing overall installation methane emissions in kg/hour. That allowed us to look at actual operations during that period of time and gain an understanding of methane sources. We could then compare calculated data with data captured using UAV for the same period. This is a great step forward towards meeting our company targets for methane quantification and reduction.”

“We’re all aiming for Net Carbon Zero. Looking at new technologies is a really fundamental part of our strategy as a business to help us to meet these ambitions.  There’s a lot of cooperation and collaboration within the Project, particularly around methane quantification and reduction, which is great to see as it allows us to share learnings. The bigger picture is to really focus on methane reduction opportunities and targets. Now we are in a position to take that essential first step in being able to quantify it.”

Meeting the Global Methane Pledge

The Global Methane Pledge – announced in November 2021 – aims to reduce methane emissions by 30% compared to 2020 levels and has attracted more than 100 countries to sign up.

With methane emissions notoriously difficult to measure, a critical step towards meeting that target has been achieved through a partnership between Flylogix, SeekOps and the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) to accurately, safely and sustainably measure methane emissions from offshore assets.

Chris Adams of Flylogix says, “With the support of the Net Zero Technology Centre and the active collaboration of TotalEnergies, we’ve been able to innovate at real pace and lay the groundwork for the energy sector to contribute fully towards the Global Methane Pledge.”

Rebecca Allison, Head of Emissions Reduction at NZTC, comments: “We’ve talked a lot in the past about collaboration, and it’s been difficult to do that. But this has been a project where a lot of people have come together. The feedback from the community of like-minded people is what’s been exciting about the project.”

Brendan Smith, COO of SeekOps, adds: “The whole point of us doing this project is to be able to measure methane anywhere, globally, and generate like-for-like information, because to meet OGMP 2.0, operators will have to roll their data into one centralised location. This is a UN initiative – it doesn’t end at borders. So when we started this initiative it was to be a global offering and to educate the industry around the best practices for measuring methane.”

During the course of the project, the Flylogix and SeekOps solution achieved:

  • 12,500km flown, unmanned
  • Over 2.5m atmospheric methane data points recorded
  • Average 10 x methane concentration measurements taken every second
  • Data collected at just 250 metres from assets – the closest a UAV has flown to an offshore platform