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Methane abatement

Methane abatement technologies include equipment and operational techniques that can be applied across oil and gas value chains to reduce emissions.

Oil pipeline in front of mountains

Key findings

Oil and gas sector methane emissions, historical and in the Sustainable Development Scenario, 2000-2030

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Drop in methane emissions from oil and gas industry in 2020 due mainly to lower production rather than prevention of leaks

Oil and gas operations worldwide emitted over 70 million tonnes of methane into the atmosphere in 2020. Converted into equivalent amounts of CO2, assuming that one tonne of methane is equivalent to 30 tonnes of CO2, these methane emissions are comparable to the total energy-related CO2 emissions of the European Union. This methane emissions figure for 2020 is around 10% lower than estimates for 2019. A large portion of this drop occurred because of the fall in oil and gas production over the course of the year – especially in countries and regions where production has a high emissions intensity.

Oil and gas sector methane emissions in the Net Zero and Announced Pledges scenarios, 2015-2030

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Action on methane is one of the most effective steps the energy sector can take to mitigate climate change

Fossil fuel operations generated nearly one-third of all methane emissions from human activity. Action on methane is therefore one of the most effective steps the energy sector can take to mitigate climate change. Global methane emissions from oil and gas operations are likely to rebound in 2021. Conversely, the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario requires that total methane emissions from fossil fuel operations fall around 75% between 2020 and 2030. Considering average natural gas prices from 2017-2021, almost 45% of current methane emissions from oil and gas operations could be avoided with measures that would have no net cost. Policymakers have at their disposal well-established policy tools that have already been demonstrated in multiple contexts to drive these emissions reductions, for instance Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) requirements, staple technology standards and a ban on non-emergency flaring and venting.