Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell) (NYSE: RDS.A) recently announced its intention to achieve a target to maintain the emissions of methane intensity below 0.2% by 2025. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas when limited would help curb carbon emissions. And, the target set by Shell would also cover all oil and gas assets for which it is the operator.
Shell would join the bandwagon with British rival BP, which had set a similar goal last year. And, also join Exxon Mobil who had announced its plans to reduce methane emissions by 15% by 2020.
Methane is released into the atmosphere due to the burning of excess gas, which is known as flaring. The release of gases is also attributed to leaks in gas infrastructure like wells, pipelines, and pumps. The gas creates more greenhouse impact than carbon dioxide, even though the oil and gas industry produces less methane and added to the fact that gas has a shorter lifetime. Mark Radka, Head of UN Environment’s Energy and Climate Branch reiterated that methane was a potent greenhouse gas, but it had a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere.
In the context of measuring the methane target, it would be calculated against a baseline leak rate, which is currently estimated at the range from 0.01% to 0.8% across the company’s oil and gas assets. Meanwhile, the Anglo-Dutch company set out an ambitious plan in 2017 to halve its carbon emissions by 2050, which would exceed its rivals. And, Maarten Wetselaar, Shell’s Integrated Gas & New Energies Director stated it was a further demonstration of their continued focus on tackling greenhouse gas emissions. He added that such efforts were a critical part of Shell’s strategy to thrive during the global energy transition by providing more and cleaner energy.
Meanwhile, after the signing of the 2015 U.N. supported Paris climate agreement that sought to curb emissions to zero in order to limit global warming by the end of the century, it has been observed that climate change and emissions that are caused by burning fossil fuels have transitioned to the forefront of discussions between the energy companies and the investors.
Ben Ratner, Director at Environmental Defense Fund, U.S-based non-profit climate advocacy stated in this context that the race to near-zero methane emissions was on. He added that company leadership on methane would not stop with setting targets. And, follow through with good data and transparency was vital.
Meanwhile, Shell’s methane emissions reached around 123,000 tonnes in 2017, accounting for around 5% of its total greenhouse gas emissions.