U.S. Approves $189 Million Loan for Real-Time Methane Monitoring in Key Oil-Producing Basins

(Reuters) — The Department of Energy's loan office on Friday conditionally approved a $189 million loan to support the build-out of a methane monitoring network in key oil-producing basins that would provide real-time data for tens of thousands of oil and gas sites, which it estimates could prevent the equivalent of at least 6 millions tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Houston-based Long Path Technologies will use the loan to deploy its Emissions Overwatch System across 24,000 square miles (62,160 square km) in several states. The technology uses lasers - placed on 50-foot (15-meter) towers - to monitor areas for methane leaks.

Unlike optical gas imaging, which takes less frequent measurements of methane, the Long Path system can continuously monitor 8-square mile (21-square km) areas, which could provide updates every two hours and notify operators in the event of a leak, according to DOE's Loan Program Office.

Some of Long Path's current subscribers include oil and gas firms like Conoco Phillips and pipeline company Williams.

The DOE said the loan is the latest commitment by the Biden administration to tackle methane, a potent, short-lived greenhouse gas that can leak into the atmosphere undetected from drill sites, gas pipelines and other oil and gas equipment.

Methane has more warming potential than carbon dioxide and breaks down in the atmosphere faster, so reining in methane emissions can have a more immediate impact on limiting climate change.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month unveiled regulations that would ban routine flaring of natural gas produced by newly drilled oil wells, require oil companies to monitor for leaks from well sites and compressor stations, and establishes a program to use third-party remote sensing to detect large methane releases from so-called "super emitters" in places like the Permian Basin.

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