With the Methane Detectors Challenge, Environmental Defense Fund and seven oil and natural gas companies have challenged technology developers to design cutting-edge, cost-effective continuous monitoring systems that will help rapidly detect–and fix–leaks of methane. Several of these technologies are moving towards pilots at oil and gas industry sites in early 2016.

Stopping methane emissions is one of our most pressing climate challenges – and also one of our biggest opportunities. Improvements in methane detection technology will help the oil & gas sector find and fix leaks with the speed we expect in the digital age. In addition, reducing leaks can help clear the air in surrounding communities, and boost the revenue of companies that act quickly to repair them by keeping more product in the pipeline.

A collaboration cutting across oil and gas, government, academia and NGO sectors

The Methane Detectors Challenge started with EDF asking a simple question: if there were cost-effective solutions to continuously detect and find gas leaks faster, would the oil and gas sector buy them and put them to work?

That led to a groundbreaking collaboration that saw EDF partner with seven oil and gas companies — Anadarko, Apache Corporation, Hess Corporation, Noble Energy, Shell, Southwestern Energy and Statoil — and other nonprofit, university and government partners. Together they consolidated their expertise and networks to identify, test and validate next-generation methane monitoring devices. Innovations that can be commercially deployed to help the oil and gas industry quickly find and repair methane leaks.

Technology teams taking part in the Methane Detectors Challenge have received a rare opportunity to interact with leaders in the energy sector, gain first mover advantage for a new emerging market and help address one of the planet’s most pressing climate risks.

Meeting the challenge

In early 2014, EDF and its partners released a Request for Proposals and received 20 responses from around the globe. The competition was culled down to five diverse technologies. Those technologies were brought to Southwest Research Institute for multiple rounds of laboratory and in-field testing to evaluate accuracy and performance.

The technology developers have worked in close consultation with industry experts throughout the process, and are working towards pilot field deployments during 2016.

Further information on the Methane Detectors Challenge:

icon-all-publicationsOriginal Request for Proposals

icon-all-publicationsFact sheet on the Methane Detectors Challenge

icon-all-publicationsPhase 1 testing results

icon-all-publicationsPhase 2 testing results