Wintershall Dea reinforces the ‘Aiming for Zero Methane Emissions Initiative’

Source: press release, 30 June 2022

Wintershall Dea has launched a global leak detection and repair (LDAR) campaign
Wintershall Dea has launched a global leak detection and repair (LDAR) campaign (photo: Wintershall Dea/Tristan Vankann)

Rapidly reducing methane emissions is an essential tool for mitigating climate change and achieving global climate goals. “The gas and oil industry, too, must and will make its contribution here. At Wintershall Dea, we have already been very consistently reducing the methane emissions from our production activities for several years,” says Mario Mehren, CEO of Wintershall Dea. Europe’s largest independent gas and oil producer is now reinforcing the international Aiming for Zero Methane Emissions Initiative, whose backers also include companies like bp, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Petrobras and Shell. “We share the conviction that much of our industry’s methane emissions can and should be avoided,” Mehren adds.

The Aiming for Zero Methane Emissions Initiative is taking an all-in approach and demonstrating the willingness of its signatories to take climate protection as seriously as the oil and gas industry takes safety: The target is “zero”, and all members strive to achieve this goal. The initiative also calls for concrete technology-related measures, such as with venting and flaring, but also for transparent and regular reporting of methane emissions. At the same time, it supplements other voluntary initiatives, such as the Methane Guiding Principles and the Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0 (OGMP 2.0), both of which Wintershall Dea is already participating in.

Why reducing methane emissions is so important
Unlike CO2, methane is rapidly broken down in the atmosphere. But in the first 20 years following its release, methane has a warming potential more than 80 times greater than that of CO2. Given the urgent need to combat climate change and to slow global warming, rapidly reducing methane emissions is of critical importance. Methane emissions resulting from oil and gas activities are responsible for almost 6% of total methane emissions in the EU.

Global LDAR campaign launched
In order to effectively reduce methane emissions, it is crucial to have precise information about the quantities emitted and the sources of emissions. For this reason, Wintershall Dea launched a global leak detection and repair (LDAR) campaign in 2021 to further reduce emissions. LDAR will make it possible to detect and quickly plug even the smallest leaks. “We started the campaign in Germany and have just completed most of the measurements. Now we are analysing the results in order to get even better and to work in a targeted manner on additional reductions,” says Hugo Dijkgraaf, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Wintershall Dea. Working together with external service providers, 100% of the processing facilities (with roughly 500,000 connections) in the operated assets in Germany were inspected for possible methane emissions. Only very few leaks were found, and all of them were small; the majority could be repaired immediately, and the rest will be repaired during upcoming maintenance work.

The campaign will now be advanced on a global level. “We plan to anchor LDAR as an element of our routine maintenance in all plants and to inspect them completely at least once a year. This will enable us to detect and repair any potential leaks,” Dijkgraaf explains. It is equally important, he added, to capture and use associated gas and to avoid flaring of this gas or to reduce it to the absolute minimum that is technically required (e.g., for safety reasons).