What Solutions Is BP Eyeing to Hit Zero Emissions?

Copyright © 2021 Energy Intelligence Group

BP has set industry-leading goals for bringing its emissions down to zero, but how can it get there? Although BP still has much to prove, some clear, early hints about its envisaged solutions can be found in BP Launchpad, a division the UK major set up last year to find start-up companies offering promising solutions. Overseen by Managing Director Steve Cook, Launchpad is designed as an incubator factory which scales up pathfinders which could make a huge dent in reducing energy demand and emissions while cutting costs (NE Sep.26'19; related). As part of this, BP has recently bought four companies -- Fotech, Lytt, Stryde and Onyx -- which the oil major hopes can be turned into billion-dollar businesses. For example, a big challenge for BP will be reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas value chain. New Chief Executive Bernard Looney said last week that BP would install methane measurement at all of its major oil and gas processing sites by 2023 and reduce the methane intensity of operations by 50%. It is also trying to make sure its pipelines are as environmentally safe as possible through its acquisition of Fotech, which uses acoustic technology to continuously monitor pipelines and infrastructure for leaks. Using distributed acoustic sensing (Das) technology -- essentially, fiber optic cables that can detect strains over large distances and in difficult environments -- Fotech says its equipment can detect leaks equating to as little as 0.1% of overall flow rates, compared with traditional methods such as mass balance systems which typically detect leaks amounting to 1% or more of flow rates. With BP pipelines flowing more than 1 million barrels of oil, liquids and gas per day, early detection can make the difference between a localized leak and an environmental disaster, says Fotech. Fotech technology is also billed as a preventative tool, detecting possible weak points and alerting operators that precautionary maintenance is advised. Further still, Das technology is seen as a weapon in the fight against terrorism and theft from pipelines, alerting security personnel to the exact location of an incident and enabling a swift resolution of any potential problems. After an incident, post-acquisition analysis of Das data can highlight activity associated with scouting missions or reconnaissance, Fotech says. BP is also active in subsurface analytics through start-ups Lytt and Stryde. Lytt, acquired by BP in 2019, is a fiber-optic acoustic technology company which uses Das technology for a very different purpose -- to "listen" to wells and reservoirs and improve their performance in areas such as downhole sand detection, well integrity, vertical seismic profiling and in-flow profiling. BP says Lytt well and reservoir surveillance technology has been deployed more than 100 times across BP's global portfolio in Norway, Azerbaijan, Trinidad and the North Sea and "has helped BP add and protect thousands of barrels of production." BP is now marketing Lytt technology to outside operations and maintenance companies. Lytt's Das technology is also viewed as effective at detecting and providing crucial information on leaks. "In laymen's terms, the Das can hear gas, as distinct from other fluids, and register precisely the pressure source, leak pathway and the exit points," it says. Meanwhile, Stryde has developed the world's lightest and smallest remote seismic monitoring node for subsurface applications, which negates the need for traditional cable-based solutions. Bought by BP late last year, Stryde says the technology has been proven in Norway, the United Arab Emirates and Russia and vastly reduces the manpower and vehicles associated with traditional seismic work. The technology also has a much lower environmental footprint. Beyond oil and gas, the technology can be used in various low-carbon energy applications such as carbon sequestration and wind farms.

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