Don’t flare, don’t vent, use stranded gas

There were several fascinating discussions at the third annual Methane Emissions Reduction Forum (MERF), a Canada-based virtual conference hosted by Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC). One of the main points of discussion was the rapid improvement in emission detection technology, which is likely to have significant implications for oil and gas firms and how they operate over the next decade, not just in Canada but all over the world.

The long and the short of it is that using drone-based cameras coupled with sensitive sets of sensors, it is going to become increasingly easy to spot where natural gas is being wasted as a result of leaks, flares or venting.

Canada has a highly regulated oil and gas sector which has a keen focus on staying competitive with emerging alternative energy sources, and also takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. So it is perhaps unsurprising that to hear that regulators are also increasingly using technology and the data it yields to ensure that the world’s resources are being used efficiently and considerately.

From the discussions at MERF, it sounds like it is going to become increasingly difficult for oil and gas projects to lose themselves among the forests, because the technology needed to ensure adherence to environmental responsibilities is increasingly low-cost. And if its relatively low cost, the chances are regulators around the world are in the process of putting similar measures in place.

The problem is that the increased interest from regulators does not actually solve one of the oil and gas sector’s fundamental problems, which is that at many sites, while a volume of oil might be worth pursuing, the gas that accompanies it might well be too little to make it worth the cost of shipping it to market. Many projects are not viable unless you vent or flare the gas.

What this means is that if regulators increase their scrutiny of smaller oil and gas projects, those projects simply won’t go ahead, which is less than ideal when the world is still relying on natural resources for its increasing energy requirements.

So what’s the alternative? The short answer is to turn the natural gas into usable power rather than simply let it dissipate into the atmosphere. Which sounds great, but having a gigawatt of electricity when you are 100 miles from the nearest pylon is virtually the same problem as having a volume of natural gas when you are 100 miles from the nearest pipeline.

Here’s where evolving technology can work in the favour of oil and gas projects. One of the fastest growing demands for power comes from processing for blockchain and cryptocurrency projects. The servers used to process data have a voracious appetite, but they don’t need to be placed near a project. The project simply needs their output.

So here’s what PermianChain is doing. We are working with oil and gas projects, locating data processing centres on-site and powering them with previously wasted natural gas. The processing centres are mobile so they can be moved between sites as resource availability declines, and they are housed in units that are about the size of a shipping container, so they are not a physical burden on a project’s real estate.

Once they are set up, they can work away in the background without the need for anything beyond the most basic observation, but by having them on a site, they turn previously wasted gas into a revenue generating resource. And regulators are satisfied because the gas is being used responsibly rather than flared off or vented.

Anything that reduces waste is likely to be good news for oil and gas firms as they wrestle with the changed economic realities of the mid- (and hopefully sometime soon post-) Covid-19 economic reality.

We are already working with oil and gas projects in Canada and several other parts of the world, helping oil and gas projects turn wasted gas into a viable revenue stream, delivering relatively low-cost power to data mining projects and reducing regulatory concern.

Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss how we can support your project.

PermianChain is a proprietary technology platform that brings together the crypto-mining and oil and gas sectors. Using a permissioned access blockchain, PermianChain makes it possible to utilise stranded and wasted energy resources, unlocking liquidity and transforming the way that oil and gas projects are funded, produced, bought and sold. Established in 2018, PermianChain Technologies is a pioneer member of the Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) and start-up member of the Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC).

PermianChain harnesses blockchain technology to digitize, tokenize and monetize proven natural resources, starting with oil and gas.