Oil and Gas Methane Science Studies

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) will work together on a series of peer-reviewed scientific studies to measure methane emissions in the oil and gas sector. The data collected will help companies and governments prioritize actions and policies to reduce methane emissions.

The Challenge

Methane is a greenhouse gas many times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. However, relatively little is known about emissions from one of its largest man-made sources, the oil and gas industry.

The International Energy Agency has noted that “the potential for natural gas to play a credible role in the transition to a decarbonized energy system fundamentally depends on minimizing methane emissions, particularly outside the U.S.”

More is known about methane emissions in the United States where oil and gas production is booming and where EDF carried out 16 studies in cooperation with the industry that led to 28 peer-reviewed papers on US emissions. Outside the US, however, emission estimates are less certain. The new studies will help refine the global estimates that do exist while improving national estimates.


The new global study comes out of an announcement made by EDF and several oil and gas companies at COP21 in Paris last year to better quantify the industry’s contribution to global methane emissions across the value chain. Since then, Phase-1 work has focused on understanding what data gaps exist and what additional science would be most effective in filling those gaps. Phase 2, which has yet to be initiated, is intended to consist of field studies using multiple measurement methods, and will start in 2017 once the gap analysis has been finalized.

The studies will be governed by a Steering Committee of funders, but the science will be guided by a Scientific Advisory Panel. The governance protocols for the studies will build on the model and experience of the EDF-led studies in the US and aimed at ensuring integrity. This includes measures to safeguard researchers’ independence and publication of the studies in peer-reviewed journals.

The CCAC, whose Secretariat is hosted by UN Environment, has made this new science initiative an official part of its work. This will allow the study to take advantage of synergies with the CCAC Oil & Gas Methane Partnership, a public-private voluntary initiative that helps oil and gas companies take a systematic approach to reducing emissions and reporting on progress. For example, some studies could build on the field surveys that some companies are carrying out under the Oil & Gas Methane Partnership.

EDF is funding Phase 1 work. EDF and the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) have agreed to provide funds for Phase 2 after Phase-1 results are analysed. Over $6 million has been tentatively committed. Other companies and CCAC Partner governments are invited to provide additional funding to the studies to help expand their scope.

Contact us

The OGCI companies are BP, CNPC, Eni, Pemex, Reliance Industries Limited, Repsol, Saudi Aramco, Shell, Statoil, and Total.

Additional companies, governments or other organisations interested in contributing to the studies should contact Philip Swanson at the Coalition Secretariat.

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