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Detecting methane emissions to reduce greenhouse gases

CASE STUDY: Geospatial Insight

How Geospatial Insight has collaborated with the University of Leicester to develop new methodologies for detecting methane gas emissions and further reduce physical, financial or environmental risk for global businesses

Geospatial Insight was established in 2012 by a team of highly experienced geospatial experts to address a gap in the market for delivering actionable business intelligence sourced from satellite imagery.

Today, the company is one of the leading providers of geospatial intelligence in the world with proven expertise across the investment, insurance and corporate sectors through ground-breaking alternative data solutions that are augmenting traditional data analytics, enabling rapid response to major catastrophe events and fundamentally revolutionising how insurers, investors and the markets make business decisions.

Applying EO analysis to satellite data

To develop new methodologies for detecting methane gas emissions and further reduce physical, financial or environmental risk for global businesses, Geospatial Insight signed up to SPRINT to complete a major project with the University of Leicester.

The project enabled Geospatial Insight to work with experts from the University of Leicester on Earth Observation (EO) data analysis of high-resolution satellite imagery. These EO data processing techniques will enable the company’s clients to detect methane leakage and to take mitigating actions.

In collaboration with the University of Leicester, Geospatial Insight developed new processing methods and tools to detect methane from satellite imagery in a more robust, reliable and commercially viable manner.

Proving the methodologies

Benefits achieved through the SPRINT project included:

  • Enquiry for new product from major global oil and gas producer
  • Outcome of the methane detection methods to the simulated data “showed promise as the basis of a method for methane detection”

Identifying and quantifying methane leakage

Dave Fox, CEO of Geospatial Insight said: “Methane, the main component of natural gas, can warm the planet more than 80 times as much as the same amount of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period if it escapes into the atmosphere before being burned. Energy companies are therefore interested at the highest levels in reducing leakage. We believe that a big breakthrough can be achieved through methane plume detection and quantification from multispectral satellite imagery.

“The research undertaken with the University of Leicester via SPRINT has clearly demonstrated the potential for Maxar WorldView-3 data to be used as a reliable source for the detection of methane leakage. The outcomes of the project were very positive but as we were only using surrogate ariel data, mimicking satellite data, it’s not delivered a definitive output which is why we need to apply it to real satellite data.

“To develop the concept further, we’re moving the research towards something that can be operationally deployed. The next stage of the project is to measure how much we can increase the reliability of detecting methane. SPRINT is ideal to fill the gap in our research capabilities by offering a very specific skillset in academic research that is very difficult for other commercial partners to match.”

Commercialising methane gas emissions detection system

Geospatial Insight has now signed up to SPRINT for a second time, to commercialise its novel solution for detecting methane gas emissions in the oil and gas production process. The company will continue to collaborate with the University of Leicester on this new SPRINT project to explore how the application of multispectral satellite imagery can enable the detection of methane plumes.

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