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The Cenovus Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program takes flight

The Cenovus Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program takes flight
Bridger Photonics aircraft used for aerial methane detection.

November 2020 – Cenovus Energy, with our partner Bridger Photonics, have now conducted two independent aerial methane emission screenings across our conventional operations as part of our Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) approved Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program (Alt-FEMP) pilot.

“We are committed to reducing methane emissions from our operations and are now implementing a methane emissions monitoring program which utilizes alternative technologies and employs a novel approach,” explains Sean Hiebert, Emissions Management Engineer at Cenovus. “This is an exciting milestone for Cenovus as this program will help us detect, quantify and mitigate methane emissions from our operations more efficiently than methods used in the past.”

Methane monitoring is required by regulation, and traditional programs require ground-based surveys up to three times per year using traditional hand-held tools. This mode of monitoring is effective at detecting and quantifying methane emissions but is costly, time consuming and requires extensive ground travel.

The Cenovus Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program takes flight

In our Alt-FEMP pilot program, we first deploy the Bridger Photonics Gas Mapping methane sensor via airplane in order to screen our operations from above. As the small fixed-wing aircraft flies over our facilities, the system takes a series of high-definition images while utilizing laser-based methane sensing technologies to provide us with detailed imagery showing methane emission overlays for each site. This is a very effective way to capture consistent, high-resolution data which can help us understand our emissions footprint and prioritize where we need to focus our efforts.

“This new methodology allows us to find and respond to methane leaks faster and more accurately than we could previously,” says Marshall Wild, Operations Superintendent, Maintenance, Integrated Operations, Conventional at Cenovus. “Seeing the big picture allows us to focus on the largest sources of methane emissions where we can really reduce our GHG emission impact on the environment, while being cost efficient.”

Based on the results of aerial screening, we then conduct follow-up ground-based surveys at the top 10% emitting facilities to confirm emission findings and develop and deploy site-specific methane emission reduction action plans.

“We are very proud of this program, impressed with its early success, and plan to continue it through to mid-2022” says Hiebert. “Early data shows this approach works and we are optimistic we will be able to use this technology moving forward.”