Exxon Mobil, University of Texas launch Project Astra: Plan to slash Permian Basin methane emissions.

May 28, 2020

On May 22, 2020 the University of Texas, Austin, announced a project in conjunction with Exxon Mobil Corp., nonprofits and other companies to monitor methane emissions in the oil-rich Permian Basin through a continuously operating network of sensors according to a May 22, 2020 EnergyWire report.

The Project Astra initiative will install sensors that provide data on a roughly hourly basis, according to David Allen, lead investigator on the project and a professor of chemical engineering at UT Austin.

While some isolated sites already do continuous monitoring, the network seeks to monitor emissions continuously across a broad oil and gas producing region, Allen said, and will provide emissions information about individual sites.

“This project has incredible potential and will open new pathways for companies to find and reduce methane emissions from the more than 1 million existing oil and gas wells in the United States,” Allen said in a statement.

The project anticipates hundreds of sensors, a network UT Austin called a “first-of-its-kind” for monitoring emissions across an oil- and gas-producing region.

The university is working with the Environmental Defense Fund, Exxon Mobil, Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and the Gas Technology Institute on the partnership. Officials from each of those organizations serve on the project’s steering committee.

The initial phase of network development on Project Astra will test a range of methane-sensing technologies, the group said, and will study their ability to operate autonomously.

The network “will allow producers to find and fix significant methane releases at or below the cost of current monitoring technologies, most of which measure emissions only on an annual or semi-annual basis,” according to the project’s website.

The greatest expense associated with the current model of inspecting for emissions is sending operators to every site to inspect for unintended emissions, Allen said. “A sensing network that sends operators to sites only when there is a high probability of finding unintended emissions trades off the higher sensing costs with lower costs in operator time,” he said.

What this means to you
Exxon Mobil, University of Texas and others are launching the Project Astra Initiative: a plan to install methane emission sensors that provide data on a roughly hourly basis on Permian Basin oi land gas wells. The network allows producers to find and fix significant methane emissions at or below the cost of current monitoring technologies.

MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for stationary engine emission control in the Permian Basin.