Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell plc and TotalEnergies SE take off with Canada’s GHGSat as part of a year-long research project to detect marine methane (CH4) leaks via satellite.

The three supermajors are supporting the project by allowing observation of six of their offshore installations, including those in the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. A first feasibility assessment will begin later this year with satellite readings compared to measurements taken on board platforms by portable devices and drones. The trio agreed to participate in the study following successful demonstration trials.

“This is a GHGSat research project, but driven by customer demand,” said GHGSat CEO Stéphane Germain. “Offshore producers are looking for ways to confirm their reported emissions. With this new research, we hope to show that space can deliver the data they need, in a timely, reliable and cost-effective manner. “

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The study aims to demonstrate the feasibility of the world’s first high-resolution satellite monitoring of CH4 emissions at sea using GHGSat’s Glint Mode technology. The patented infrared sensor identifies CH4 by its signature of electromagnetic radiation when it absorbs sunlight that bounces off the ocean surface. Montreal-based GHGSat takes measurements from sharper angles, locating the spacecraft’s sensor at the point where sunlight reflects most strongly off the ocean – the “bright spot”.

GHGSat’s satellite is traveling at around 7.5 km / s, fast enough that 100 times more light can be sent to the gas detection instrument. In 2018, the company began working with Total to refine its measurement thresholds to capture increasingly smaller emissions. In October 2020, the two set a world record by quantifying and detecting the smallest controlled leak to date.